Keeping Your Sanity

On any given day we see our time being eaten away by various consumers. Today’s world is a busy place to be.

For those who genuinely want to serve God, this busyness can be a source of discouragement and even resentment. How do we stay “sane” in all this? The word sane in simplest form means “mentally sound, able to anticipate and judge the effect of one’s actions.” It seems to me that a viable rewording of this definition for a Christian is “seeing things from God’s perspective.”

In his paraphrase of Romans 12:3, J. B. Phillips says, “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you.” This usage here of sane points out that we are to look at ourselves from God’s point of view. Especially when our schedules are hectic, we want to know how to view our lives from God’s perspective.

ONE

My first suggestion for keeping this perspective is to be realistic about what and how much you should accomplish. Set biblical purposes and goals for yourself during regular planning times.

Personally, I have found that setting long-term and short-term goals based on my life’s purpose is my best means of being realistic. This helps me evaluate myself periodically, and to reset my goals according to my evaluation.

(A helpful source of instruction on how to set goals according to your life’s purpose is Strategy for Living, a workbook by E. R. Dayton and Ted Engstrom, both specialists in time management.)

Being realistic helps me defeat perfectionism, a trait that can be harmful. To be a perfectionist is to keep one standard at the expense of others.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians, “The important thing is to be willing to give as much as we can—that is what God accepts, and no one is asked to give what he has not got” (2 Corinthians 8:12, Phillips). Although the context of this verse is Paul’s teaching about financial giving, the principle holds as well for other ways we give of ourselves.

It is both freeing and motivating to set realistic goals we can accomplish in a given length of time.

TWO

A second suggestion is to trust and rely on God’s loving control over what happens in our lives. This includes seeing interruptions as opportunities.

Often when I am studying the Scriptures, thinking about ideas, or planning for my day, the telephone will ring. I am learning not to resent this as an intrusion but to recognize it as an opportunity to use what God has taught me as I talk with the caller.

Hosea understood God’s sovereignty when he wrote,

The ways of the Lord are right;

the righteous walk in them,

but the rebellious stumble in them.

HOSEA 14:9

After all that Hosea had been through in having his entire lifestyle interrupted for the Lord’s purposes, he was well qualified to articulate this trust in God.

THREE

A further step is setting priorities for what we do. Living according to the wrong priority system produces a wealth of anxiety.

Our priorities will vary somewhat from person to person, but the general form should probably be similar to this:

1. Responsibility to God

2. Responsibility to our family

3. Responsibility to other Christians

4. Our job and career

5. Our ministry responsibilities—evangelism and discipling

Our activities should be based on these priorities, with the most important things being done first.

It’s not always possible to spend as much as an hour with God each day, but even a few moments of encountering his grace in prayer and in the Scriptures can do wonders for the soul and body.

For several years, I have made it a daily practice to say “Good morning” to God before I arise. I tell him I want the coming day to honor him, and ask for his help in obeying him. More recently, I’ve been trying to also express gratitude to him as a part of these early morning greetings.

FOUR

This leads to the fourth suggestion. Developing an attitude of gratefulness will do wonders for one’s perspective. A positive outlook on hardships and difficulties is much more likely when we first find something about them to be grateful for.

As a personal example in a less crucial area, one day I was having a less than desirable golf game. I had ineptly used a three-iron, resulting in the ball angling somewhat to the left. As I stood and surveyed the consequence of my dismal swing, I thanked God that at least the ball went forward. (Some have gone sideways!) This helped me relax, which in turn helped me swing more freely and precisely the next time. As the ball rolled to a stop down the fairway a few minutes later, I could see once more the value of a grateful spirit.

FIVE

Another idea is to try “praying” things done, instead of doing them yourself. Letting God provide for us will help us remember we’re not self-sufficient.

Because of the nature of the ministry I am involved in, both May and August are extremely busy months for me. During these months I consistently see God provide for me in special ways.

On one occasion my car needed to be serviced, but I didn’t have time to get it done. One morning as I got in my car, I prayed, “Dear Lord, you and I both know this car needs to be serviced. Thank you for giving me such a good car. Please, help me get it serviced.” That day a friend, without knowing of my prayer, called to see if I needed any help with my car! I praised God for his grace and provision.

SIX

Getting enough rest is my last suggestion. Fatigue brings distortion. When we’re too tired, little things seem big and big things seem small. Sin appears less damaging than it is, and doing what is right seems too hard.

But resting in God makes us trust him more. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I call this and the next two verses in Matthew 11 the Great Compassion, as essential to us for total living as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

Is it really possible to find and maintain God’s perspective in the middle of a hectic schedule? It is not only possible, but imperative. If you have realistic goals, trust God’s sovereignty, live by the right priorities, develop a grateful attitude, get things done by prayer, and find rest in God, you’ll begin seeing your viewpoint match God’s.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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