(originally posted in my worship blog at http://firstnetchurch.com)
As an avid Seinfeld fan, one of my favorite episodes is when George Costanza is hired by Kruger Industrial Smoothing.
company’s owner, Mr. Kruger, is simply clueless. When he interviews
George he says, “George, I’ll be honest, I could go either way with
you. But what the heck! We need someone. Let’s see about getting you an
office.” He ignores George’s unstable work history, including a 4 day
stint at his last job. (George: “uh…there should be a 1 in front of
Later, George makes the statement to Jerry that this is the perfect
job because the boss is clueless and “I could go hog wild in a place
like this.” Indeed, in subsequent episodes, George does enough to get
himself fired a dozen times from any other job, but Kruger just goes on
with a goofy grin and an “oh well”.
Interestingly enough, most people would take George for being lazy.
The guy wanders aimlessly through life hopping from one job to the next
while spending the majority of his time in Jerry’s apartment or the
coffee shop discussing every minute observation each day. In fact,
George isn’t lazy. George works extremely hard at being unproductive
and he’s far from being a sloth. Anyone who would go to great lengths
to hire a carpenter to build a bed under his desk so he could sleep at
work is more bored than lazy.
Of course, our culture views non-productivity as unacceptable. The
people who are considered successful are also the busiest people. Those
who work 60-80 hour weeks are admired while those who put in their mere
40 hours are the slackers left behind. No organization has been more
affected by this world-view than the church. Pastors are often hired
more for their administration skills than their spirituality. Many
churches want CEO’s not shepherds, motivational speakers instead of
preachers. There is often a mentality to hire a Pastor to “run a
church”. This is a worldly concept when you think of it, but the church
in great part has adopted it.
Author Eugene Peterson observes that “busyness is not an indication
of effectiveness, but rather a product of our own vanity and laziness.
The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my
time are proof to myself – and all who will notice – that I am
He goes on to cite C.S. Lewis’ assertion that ‘only lazy people work
hard.’ He goes on to say “By lazily abdicating the essential work of
deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other
people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last
minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time,
none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster
of disappointing someone.”
If, as ministers, we apply the business model to our vocation,
something is going to suffer. Something more important than “to-do
lists”. The biggest casualty will be personal worship. When we make
time for worship we are fulfilling God’s commandment of sabbath. My
opinion is that sabbath should not be limited to one day, rather we
should seek multiple sabbaths throughout the course of the week.
Sabbath means to do no work. We need to realize that work in itself can
be an idol. If you doubt this, try sitting in a quiet room in the
middle of the day without reading, checking your cellphone, or talking.
If it begins to drive you crazy 5 minutes in, you can be assured you
are addicted to busyness.
Most times, sabbath should be practiced with the absence of things
we deem spiritual and productive, like Bible study. Preferrably,
listening to worship music, meditating on a single scripture verse,
spiritual poetry are beneficial to a practice of personal sabbath. You
see, God wants to meet us at soul level, and it’s kind of hard to hear
his voice when our mouths are running and our brains are multi-tasking.
Some of you will probably find this a little weird, but if you do, then
you are not taking into consideration that these types of practices
have been practiced in the church for centuries, and it’s only within
the last century or two that the church has drifted away from many
classic spiritual disciplines.
Jesus Himself often went off alone before important events. He went
to the wilderness and fasted 40 days prior to beginning His ministry.
He prayed alone in Gethsemane before going to the Cross. Of course,
there are extremes to everything. We shouldn’t take on a “desert
fathers” approach to sanctification by shutting ourselves off to
“sinners”. Indeed, Jesus had a different mindset than we do, yet we are
called to take on the “mind of Christ” aren’t we? The “religious right”
of Jesus’ day regarded some of his practices as ineffective or
non-productive, even unlawful. Christ’s demonstration of ministering on
the Sabbath Day was not an indictment against sabbath, but rather an
evidence of someone who practiced it more than one day a week. Most
importantly, Christ’s ministry was made effective by His time spent
alone with the Father. The scriptures point this out in Hebrews 5:8,9 “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”.
If Christ learned obedience and submission through personal worship,
who are we to think that we should neglect it in favor of doing “church
I’ll close with this quote by Bruce Larson. He refers to worship as
“wasting time in God’s presence.” My challenge to you, especially those
called to lead people to worship, is to leave worldly success where it
belongs. A ministry without worship and prayer is dead, but a life
spent in the presence of Christ leads to effective ministry.