Pulled in Different Directions
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. ~Acts 23:10
Do you sometimes feel like you have so many things competing for your attention or time that you almost feel like you are being pulled apart? If you have had this experience, it is a very uncomfortable and stressful feeling. Sometimes it takes the involvement of someone else to help us see how we are being pulled by so many interests that we are on the verge of being pulled in pieces.
We see the struggle.
How many hats are you wearing? How many people in your life are you living to please? When I think of my life, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a teacher, and a friend to people in and out of the church. All of my responsibilities and roles demand a minimum amount of time and completion of tasks. Some weeks are more demanding than others. As much as I try to prioritize each day, week, and month, there will always be something unplanned for or a crisis that occurs that adds a new “pull factor.” All of these pull factors want more of your time and effort. They have no sympathy that you are trying to do your best in being responsible. So, you struggle to use your time wisely and be everything to everyone.
We see the stress.
When you are being pulled by competing responsibilities, you will eventually feel immense and burdensome pressures. First, there is the stress on your personal walk with God. For many Christians, the pull always affects their walk with God. Second, there is the stress on your marriage and raising your children. The biggest mistake everyone makes is allowing the pull to cause us to make sacrifices to our family. Our spouses and children are neglected and left with only pieces of us. Third, there is the stress on ministry performance. It is not wrong to be involved in multiple ministries. It is wrong to be overcommitted to the place where none of the ministries get your best effort. There is the stress on time. We live a crisis-management lifestyle, which means less sleep, eating out more often, and just getting something done instead of accomplishing something great.
We see the strategy.
Paul was being pulled to pieces. Thankfully, the chief captain saw this and intervened. What does this teach us? We need to have wisdom to discern when we are being pulled to pieces. If your spouse or your children are seeing you being pulled apart, listen to them and reevaluate what is happening. If you are trying to please everyone, realize that you cannot. You need to have a plan of action that includes time you can commit to everything you are responsible for. Don’t be a quitter on what you are committed to. Eliminate wasted time on activities that you know are unprofitable. Get counsel from your pastor on how to do what you are supposed to do well. Be sure that your top responsibilities are your daily time in the Word, prayer, and family. Let team members in ministries and commitments that you are in know when you are over your head so that everyone can help compensate for your need.