As some of you may know, I was on staff with The Navigators for 37 years and moved on in the fall of 2005.
My 37 years with The Navigators were both rewarding and developmental. Before actually coming on staff, I heard the founder of The Navigators, Dawson Trotman, preach a message that has had a profound effect on my life, family and ministry. It was from a passage of scripture that, I would venture to say, is unfamiliar to most of you and from which you have probably never heard a message or sermon.
The passage is 1 Kings 20:39b, 40a
“…a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone…” (ESV)
I heard Trotman speak on this obscure passage 52 years ago and can still remember him saying the words,“…busyness, the curse of the age.”
Fred Smith, a Christian businessman and author who passed away a few years ago, said:
“Busyness is the new spirituality.”
In my daily reading of God’s word, I was recently again struck by and impressed with 1 Kings 20: 39,40 and decided to memorize it and spend some time thinking about it and praying over it. I need this regular reminder. The good opportunities that come my way can sometimes be the enemy of the best things on which I want to focus.
The gist of the passage is that a man was given a very specific assignment…to guard a man…”a prisoner” it says in some translations. You have one assignment: watch this man and don’t let him go missing. I’m coming back and want to see you with this guy. There is a price to pay if he is missing. Somewhere between verse 39 and verse 40 the soldier returned and asked him where the prisoner was. His reply was sobering, to say the least: “As your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.”
The application for me then, when I first heard it 52 years ago, is still the same. Understand what Jesus desires me to do and do not let busyness (“here and there”) with things of lessor importance get me off mission.
Busyness…the curse of the age!
It’s still a major problem for lots of leaders…including me. I want to be faithful and stay focused on:
- My Jesus
- My calling
- My gifts
- My vision
- My capacity
When Dawson went to be with the Lord in the mid-1950s, Billy Graham preached his funeral at The Navigators headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Among other things, he said, based on Philippians 3:12,13:
“It could be said of Dawson Trotman, this one thing I do--not these 40 things I dabble at.”
One thing I don’t want to do is “dabble” my life away.
I Kings 20:39, 40 reminds me of the story Jesus told in Matthew 25 about a man giving responsibilities to his servants and then returning to see what they had done.
When my life is over and I am at the end of my journey with Him, I want to be able to look back and see that I remained faithful, by His grace, and not say, as I reflect back: as your servant was busy here and there, the thing(s) you gave me to do got away.
How are you doing? Are you busy here and there, or have you discovered what He wants you to do and are staying focused on and faithful to that?
Trotman thought that busyness was the curse of the age. As I scan the church leadership landscape today, it’s apparent that the busyness curse lives on.