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devotion vs. “devotion”

March 31, 2009

In my experience as a Christ-follower and leader there are two types of devotion to something, whether it’s to your job, your television show, or your Lord…

1) A devotion that will find a way to do something

2) A “devotion” that will find a reason not to have to do something

Or to put it another way…

1) A devotion that causes people to look for ways to overcome obstacles

2) A “devotion” that causes people to look for obstacles

What has challenged me lately about Jesus’ ministry in the gospels is that he leads and preaches to weed out the 2nd category of “devotion” on purpose.  Next time you read through the gospels notice what happens when Jesus starts to get popular or it says that “great crowds accompanied him”.  The very next thing Jesus says will be something like, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

To be totally honest, some days I’m category 1 and some days I’m category 2.  Some days I’ll have a 5:30am coffee meeting and will wake up at 4:30 to pray… and then some days I don’t have anything in the morning but “I had a lot of email I had to get to.”  Sometimes Jana and I will give sacrificially… and then sometimes we ate out 10 times that month and “the budget was too tight”.  Sometimes I’ll go out of my way to ask someone I meet about their faith… and then sometimes they’ve asked me and I’ve dodged the question.

There’s willingness to bear The Cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)  And there’s “I will as soon as I get some stuff done at home” (Luke 9:61).  

It’s a daily decision between devotion and “devotion”.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2009 12:29 am

    I was a little confused about what you were trying to say here in the first part (weeding out those who are seeking to overcome obstacles?), but I think I get what you’re trying to say. Christ was separating the “do or die trying” guys from the “uhh… yeah, maybe we should do that sometime… when the conditions are perfect and it doesn’t cost me anything” guys. I think I get that. But let me just say that the phrase, “I will as soon as I get some stuff done at home” comes out of my mouth countless times in reference to church life and ministry. It’s a constant battle right now. Do I leave three kids at home with no supper to go do a missions project? No. As parents, we should definitely see our home as a mission field, but then that verse comes up about “if anyone does not hate his father, mother… children…” or the burying the father story. I think I’ll leave it here because I don’t really feel qualified to answer the sort of question I’m probing about.

  2. brian permalink
    April 1, 2009 2:12 am

    great word

  3. songbea permalink
    April 2, 2009 11:35 am

    I struggle with this as well Andrea…my desire to be diligent about the business of my family and also giving to others…but have decided it’s parts of the stages of life…you are in a stage currently that keeps you at home, because it’s what your family needs, my children are getting older and part of what they need now at this stage is to see ME (and to help me) being about opening my arms to the poor and extending hands to the needy (Prov.31:20)…and by helping me do those things will plant the seeds of compassion for others in them that hopefully will grow good fruit. I used to think that Proverbs 31 was what a good wife did during one day…and thought “gosh, I’ll never measure up–how can I do all that in one day when all I’m doing right now holding a crying child, feeding a baby and potty training” but gradually I’ve come to think of it as the stages of life…it speaks of her caring for her husband in the beginning, then her family, then, others, (which is like beginning in marriage, adding kids and then adding in what she does for others) in v.21 it speaks of when it snows she knows her household is covered in scarlet…maybe that means when they are older she isn’t worried because she has provided what they need and knows that they are covered in the blood of Jesus…I think you are right…you are at a stage where your mission project is your children…and as they age you will find the time to expand your field…AND…I believe your life as a good Mother and wife is a testament to the other women you come into contact with…
    I could be way off base…but that’s how I’ve learned to balance things…

  4. shelley permalink
    April 3, 2009 12:17 am

    MaryBea, I’m there too. I feel like I’m finally getting to the point where I can “go” and minister–with or without the kids–after them being my (at-home) ministry for so many years. They’ll continue to be my first-priority mission field, but I do agree that it’s vital for them to see us living with our arms outstretched and our hands open to the needs of others.

  5. josh permalink
    April 3, 2009 3:58 pm

    @Shelly @Marybea @Andrea – I want to encourage you all in your callings. You’re right on when you talk about your home mission field. Parenting is usually called “parenting”, but there’s so much in that word. Discipleship, evangelism, sanctification, preaching/teaching.

    From what little I’ve seen, being a Biblical mother is one of the hardest, truest, most counter-cultural and cross-bearing things a woman can do. Carry on!

  6. April 3, 2009 5:49 pm

    Wow ladies and Josh. Thanks for the encouraging words. Now Nathan says he wants to be a stay at home mom. Ramen and cereal would be all they ate! Not happening! So looking forward to being where you (Shelley and Mary Bea) are, but I’m also trying to focus and invest where I am, deep in the lives of these little ones. Thanks so much guys.

  7. Becky permalink
    April 3, 2009 10:10 pm

    I’m still there with you Andrea! I struggle like you, but do agree with the other ladies that our children and homes are very high on the priority list. We’ve been fortunate enough to take 2 family mission trips together but with Emma and Will it will be a little while before we can do that again. But we try to do other things, like if Jimmy goes to help someone he’ll take at least one of the kids with him…or the kids and I will pray together for people we know that are hurting at the time…or if we are able to take a meal to someone they help me cook and/or deliver it. I pray those little things make a huge impact!

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