Monday, September 17, 2012

A better routine

When I was still new at fundraising, I developed an unhelpful routine for evenings on which I'd make support calls.  My goal was to be on the phone with my contacts between 7-9pm, but it often went something more like this:
  • 6:00-6:30p: Fearfully recognize that I needed to make calls that night.  Worry about it.  Clean my desk to distract myself.
  • 6:30-7:00p: Eat dinner while watching The Simpsons.
  • 7:00-7:30p: Sit down to make calls.  Find things to do other than making calls (check email, clean my desk, etc.)
  • 7:30-7:32p: Make my first call, leave a message.
  • 7:32-8:30p: Feel bad for myself because no one ever picks up.  Check email a few more times.  Clean my desk.
  • 8:30-8:32p: Make my second call, leave a message.
  • 8:32-8:35p: Stare at the clock, waiting for 9pm to roll around so that I could justify being done for the night.
  • 8:35p: Figure that it was getting pretty close to 9pm after all, and I should call it a night.  Better luck tomorrow...
While that 7:30-8:30p timeframe might not represent every night of calls, it was the case more often than I wish it were.  I suspect I could have been done with my fundraising months earlier if it were not for this repeated routine.

So what happened?  At what point that day had my vision for serving my Savior and sharing Him with the world morphed into that epic display of Shakespearean-tragedy-level procrastination?

I believe it started, in this case, right around 6:01pm.  That's because at 6:00pm I'd realized a fear within myself: "it's almost time to do the scary phone calls!"  Within 60 seconds, I'd have already chosen how I'd deal with it: avoid it.  So it's no surprise that "avoiding it" characterized the rest of the night.

But what else could I have done instead?  Thankfully, Philippians answers that for us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 ESV)
That's about as far from what I'd chosen to do as could be imagined.  Instead of running away in fear, this passage gives me a better routine.

It tells me to prayerfully and gratefully talk to God about what I want.  The result is God's peace - peace that is so beyond me that it's literally incomprehensible - guarding my heart and mind which are otherwise so fearful.

It tells me to fill my mind with true, honorable, beautiful, excellent and praiseworthy things!  The Simpsons is great and all, but why not meditate on the amazing promises of Scripture instead?  Spending time catching up on Facebook is fine, but why not rather prepare for the task ahead by filling my mind with a Biblically-focused sermon or book or blog?

Lastly, it tells me to consider the way in which my heart and mind are guarded: in Christ Jesus.  The reason my heart is guarded rather than justly attacked is because Jesus paid the full penalty for my sin and is now interceding for me before the Father (Romans 8:34).  The reason my mind is guarded rather than eternally condemned is because God graciously chose me despite my disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-5).  These gospel truths are part of my salvation testimony - and yours - and the reason we're doing fundraising is because God is going to use us and these gospel truths to become part of others' salvation testimonies.

So don't be anxious, friends, and don't avoid the phone calls like I did.  Choose a better routine: bring your fears to God, consider more excellent things than TV and Facebook, and then share the gospel by picking up the phone and telling the person on the other side about the powerful work God has done - and will do again.