Are you feeling overwhelmed? Guilty? That you’re not doing enough? Maybe you are doing too much at once (TMAO). Rest is the remedy. You deserve it. You need it. For those who receive my daily text messages,* you may have read this on Friday, April 11. Sent to encourage people, especially while we’re living through a global pandemic, this message was also meant to challenge unhealthy expectations, including those that are self-imposed, about being productive. And because we’re all susceptible to doing too much at once—becoming preoccupied with busyness at the expense of purpose—I’d like to share a few thoughts with you.
EVERYONE HAS A GIFT
One of the most rewarding aspects of my life is serving children as a school psychologist. Supporting students with a range of abilities, skills, and interests has taught me that every person has a gift—something that they do exceptionally well, almost naturally or innately. In light of this, here’s some encouragement: despite your grades in school, you have a gift. Despite what others say about you or expect from you, you have a gift. It could be drawing, painting, or perhaps singing or playing a musical instrument. Maybe it’s envisioning what can be and creating something amazing where nothing currently exists. Whatever it is—and even if you don’t know what it is—you have a gift and I encourage you to discover it (more about this later).
EVERYONE HAS A PURPOSE
Described by some as our why, purpose is the reason for something. It gives meaning and focus to what we do. In some ways, purpose is passion and fuels our actions. Personally, my purpose is to communicate (minister) hope and wholeness and I am driven by encouraging those whom I encounter. Despite how people are feeling and what they may be going through, it is my desire that an interaction with me gives them hope that better days are ahead and they grow closer to becoming whole.
EVERYONE HAS AN ASSIGNMENT
Whereas purpose is why, assignments are what we do in order to fulfill our purpose. In other words, I communicate hope and wholeness through writing, teaching, school psychology, and music. These activities are the vehicles by which my purpose is demonstrated in meaningful ways.
Although purpose and assignments are necessary, they are also very different. Most importantly, purpose (why) is greater than assignments (what). Said another way, assignments are temporary; but purpose is longstanding. For most of my life, I was very involved in music ministry. Whether playing for churches and singing groups, teaching choirs, or writing cantatas, this was how I conveyed hope and wholeness. But although music ministry is no longer my primary assignment, my purpose remains the same. In fact, after knowing our purpose, we must also recognize when we are evolving as individuals and our assignments are changing.
A RICH AND SATISFYING LIFE
These words are recorded in the 10th verse of John chapter 10: “…My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Among other things, a rich and satisfying life is one that is lived on purpose and for purpose. Related to doing too much at once, more than the amount of work that we’re trying to accomplish, a rich and satisfying life includes being selective enough to only engage in things that are aligned with our purpose.
Although discovering our gifts, knowing our purpose, and accepting our assignments can unfold naturally through life experience, I also believe that spending quality time with God in quiet reflection can be helpful. To avoid doing too much at once, ponder these questions. First, what is my gift? Yes, we should hone our skills through diligent study and disciplined practice; but what do I do particularly well? What do I enjoy doing—especially without being paid or in the absence of an audience? What am I doing when I feel most alive? Next, what is my purpose? What am I passionate about? What brings me great joy and satisfaction? Last, what is my assignment? What should I be doing—in this moment—to fulfill my purpose? After considering the answers to these questions, I pray that we’ll have the courage to make critical decisions. Especially for things that we’ve done for a long time—despite how attractive or lucrative these opportunities may seem—let’s align our gifts, purpose, and assignments to avoid doing too much at once.
*To receive a daily, inspirational message, text WHOLE to 77948. Standard messaging and data rates apply.