Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
When we adopt the lie that we can be anything we want to be (which we looked to Scripture to refute last week), it can be easy to fall for the tangential lie that we can do everything we want to do, ignoring the laws of time and trade-offs.
In his excellent book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains that “The idea that we can have it all and do it all is not new. This myth has been peddled for so long, I believe virtually everyone alive today is infected with it….What is new is how especially damaging this myth is today, in a time when choice and expectations have increased exponentially.”
The truth is, we can’t do everything we want to do at once, so long as we accept that God has called us to excellence in all things. I’m reminded of this every time I pull up a menu for a restaurant that offers a smorgasbord of different cuisines. Sorry, but there is simply no way that a restaurant serving Mexican food, and barbecue, and pizza, and sushi is going to produce any dish with excellence. It’s just not possible. The same is true in our lives. We can’t be anything we want to be and we can’t do everything we want to do so long as we are committed to offering the Lord and the world our very best.
There are two primary things that prohibit us from doing everything we want to do well: limited time and attention. How should we respond to this brutal reality? As Christians, we respond by accepting the truth that we can’t do everything we want to do, at least not at the same time. Scattering our time and attention across many disparate endeavors will almost assuredly lead to mediocrity, not mastery.
In Ephesians 5:15-16, the Apostle Paul implores us to “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” In light of the reality of trade-offs and our limited time and attention, it would be unwise for us to scatter ourselves across too many commitments at the same time. The wiser path is found in making every effort to discern the few essential things God has called us to in this season of life and “working at them with all our heart” (Colossians 3:23). And it is in that level of focus that we as Christians have our best shot of bringing glory to God and serving our neighbors well through our work and lives. When we say yes to everything, we say yes to nothing, including the unique work the Father has put us on this earth to do.