I have a tendency to overwork. That's not one of those job application weakness statements, where actually it's a strength in disguise like "I am so innovative that some times colleagues struggle to keep pace with my new ideas" or "I'm such a team player other people feel threatened by the way I encourage them so well!" No I genuinely over work. Not work hard. But work in a way that means I don't physically rest enough. Don't spend enough time with my wife.

Now don't get me wrong. I think hard work is a good thing. I think gospel work should always be hard work. The apostle Paul says to the church in Thessalonica "Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." (1 Thessalonians 2:9) Serving the Lord Jesus well be physically exhausting and mentally draining.

When I say over work I mean that I work in a way that is driven by my belief that it's all about me! That if I don't do it, God won't. If I don't do it, God can't. If I just try harder and harder then everything will work out. At it's worst this leads to me thinking that the key to ministry is the sovereign will of Daf being enacted. I might joke about my Messiah complex. But it's not funny really.

The book I'm reading has challenged me (again!) about this is two contrasting ways in the last 24 hours. It's called "The Joy of Service" by Julian Hardyman. 

The first way was the reminder that I need to daily kill the desires of self. Having predicted his own death on the cross Jesus says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

To take up your cross daily is to be willing to die to your self each and every day, as you seek to follow Jesus. In my case that means putting to death my desires for self-promotion, for taking self-worth from the praise of people or being seen to be "successful". It means butchering my longings to achieve glory for myself. Quietly assassinating my need to be in control and get my own way.

The second reminder is the key to not killing yourself. It's not a careful work life balance. Or taking up a musical instrument or yoga. It's not even buying a dog or a bike. It's praying. 

Because it is praying that we are acknowledging that it's not about us. It's about Jesus. It's not about our strength. It's about his. It's not our effort that brings change. But His Spirit. It's not for our glory. It's for his. That's why when the apostles state what their priorities are they say "...we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4) Prayer first before anything else.

So every time I think, "I must arrange to meet that person because I'm the key to them knowing Christ!" I'm going to pray... then I'll probably send them a text!