Priority of Deliberateness
“Pay attention to yourself and your teaching…” 1 Timothy 4:16
A man from the city was driving through the country and saw a curious sight. Along the side of the road was a farmer holding a pig in a cornfield, feeding the pig ears of corn that were still on the stalk. The man from the city pulled to the side of the road, got out of his car, and walked over to the farmer. “I don’t know if you realize it, but it’s going to take a long time for you to fatten up that pig feeding him that way,” said the city slicker. “I don’t know if you realize it,” replied the farmer, “but this pig doesn’t have that much to do anyway!”
The absurdity of it all! Last month I encouraged you to consider habit of dailiness as you lived circumspectly with your schedule and your time. This month I would like to take it one step further and challenge you with deliberateness in your schedule and your time. There is a probing little statement that the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy—Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching…” The verb means to fix one’s attention completely on, or hold a clear focus upon. It is vital to realize, too, that this is an imperative, something that Paul wishes to press upon Timothy’s will—not a casual consideration but a deliberate movement to accomplish the statement. If I were to rewrite it I might say something like this—Timothy, it is you duty, the first order of business to make sure that you are paying attention to how you are living your life! There is a deliberateness to the way that life in Christ needs to be lived.
Failure to do so takes its toll. Consider the following insight offered by Elton Trueblood in a book published over fifty years ago (that alone is quite telling). “Our relation to time is highly paradoxical in that, though we live in a age marked by time-saving devices (remember this is written in 1961!), we seem to be ever more hectic in running from appointment to appointment. Because we do not have to use precious time, as all our ancestors did, in carrying water, grinding flour, and weaving cloth, we should, theoretically, have more free time available, but we do not. The trouble seems to be that we presume on the advantage of our inventions by deliberately adding to the number of our engagements until our lives are fragmented” (The Company of the Committed, pp40-41).
Did you catch that? There is a deliberateness to the way we live our lives—we are either deliberately presuming upon our calendars to add more to them, or we are deliberately filling them with intentional spiritual practices like solitude and silence. What Trueblood saw fifty-six years ago with great wisdom is even more a reality today!
More recently author Alan Fadling in his book An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest adds this piece to a life of deliberateness—“The greater need we Christ-followers have is to walk at his pace. We want to activity of our lives to bear the holy and rich fruit of communion with Christ. May we avoid the kind of frantic busyness that bears little resemblance to the pace and focus of Jesus’ life and ministry” (p 84).
That begs the question: does our activity really bear the holy and rich fruit of communion with Christ? Does the pace of our lives resemble the pace and focus of Jesus’ life? Is there a deliberateness to how I structure my days/weeks to adequately nurture the life of Christ in me? Or am I living a fragmented existence? These are worth considering as we deliberately choose a life committed to Christ.
Blessings on the Journey,