by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          June 1, 2018

One afternoon, years ago, a church member walked into my office.

“How are you doing, Dale?”

“Busy,” was my tired response.

“That’s a good thing!” he answered with a big ol’ grin on his face. “Life is good when you’re busy!”

As much as I tried, I just couldn’t understand that grin. Bob (not his real name) liked being busy. In fact, he thrived on it. For him, the biggest curse he could face was to have nothing to do. Like I said, I never understood that grin or that sentiment. Was it because Bob was an extrovert; he just liked being out and about and in the mix of things. And that I, as an introvert, would much rather have been home, alone, reading a good book? Or was there something wrong with me? You know, as a Christian, and a pastor, shouldn’t I be happy being busy doing God’s work? If so, why, then, does it sometimes seem to take so much out of me and leave me exhausted and drained?

That exchange with Bob has never left me, despite the fact it has been over a decade. It must have struck a nerve in me for me to hold onto it this long and keep revisiting it over the years.

Here’s another thought: Sometimes I really enjoy being busy. There was that time that I had three funerals in one week while still needing to prepare a worship service with a full sermon on Sunday. Or the other time when I received a phone call from the local fire chief in the middle of the night on the eve of Easter. A local woman had just found her husband in the bathroom, dead from an apparent heart attack. She was struggling deeply and needed someone to sit with her until some family could arrive from out of town. I stayed with her that night until 3AM and then, after a couple hours of sleep, went on to lead three Easter services, including the town’s sunrise service.

The person who thrived during these moments of “busy”ness does not feel at all like the same person who was exhausted at Bob’s smile. Yet, they are both me. How can this be?

This reality perplexed me until I had a recent epiphany: It is not how much I am doing that determines whether I am exhausted or not, but what it is I am doing. When I am busy doing something that I find meaningful, relevant, and with purpose, then I always manage to find the energy to accomplish the tasks and even feel energized by doing them. But when I am busy doing things that seem irrelevant, mundane, and insignificant, then I often seem to run out of energy and get bogged down. It’s like I (inadvertently) said earlier, I am happier while doing “God’s work.” The problem is, that so much of what I am busy with doesn’t feel like God’s work!

I guess this may not be earth-shattering news to some of you, but it was an important realization to me. This new knowledge will help me be more effective in my ministry. Of course one answer is to spend more of my time doing things that make a difference in the world and less time on things that serve little or no purpose. However, this isn’t always possible. Even in the ministry, we have many tasks that can feel irrelevant. Yet even these tasks can hold more meaning for me if I change my perspective. Are there any tasks that I do that are truly irrelevant? Is not every task that I do an opportunity to serve God? …to change something for the better? …to help someone out? The most mundane task that I do can still be an opportunity in faith if it is done as an act of ministry. Is this the same for you? Are there things that you are currently busy with that might take on an entirely different meaning if you change your perspective? If you look at it as a ministry, and not a sentence? This is definitely something worth considering!