The Important Things
by Jeromy Deibler
Read Luke 10:38-42
Have you ever met someone who is always thinking about the future? Whose feet are walking in the now, but whose mind is focused on things to come? They are the kind of people whose eyes glaze over in long conversations because, in their mind, they have left the room and are thinking about something else. They live in airports and live and die by their datebooks. Their state-of-the-art mobile phone hangs loosely from the belt of their khaki slacks and their car is always just about out of gas. They sleep little, eat on the run, and think movies are a waste of time. Any names come to mind? If so, then you've met me. The stressed out, future driven, control freak. I'm the poster child for Gary Smalley's "Lion" personality, and I'm becoming less and less proud of it.
When FFH began in 1991 Brian and I were flying by the seats of our pants. There was a lot of learning to do, and a lot of mistakes to be made, and we were more than willing to make them. Onstage we were singing our teenage hearts out to anyone (and I mean anyone) who would listen. Offstage we were learning what strengths the Lord gave us and how we could use them in ministry together. I quickly fit into the spot of visionary. Brian took the "clean-up" role. I would envision the mess, make it, and leave Brian to clean it up. I would make the phone calls, book the dates (sometimes 35 shows in 30 days), handle PR and marketing, and create the music. Brian would manage the money (if there was any), handle taxes, manage the merchandise, and write the checks. We would all drive the van and help set up. It was a finely tuned system - for a while anyway. As things progressed and the Lord allowed the intensity to be turned up in FFH's ministry and career, things began to slip from my grasp. Shows for 50 people turned into shows for 500 and 1500 people. Youth group newsletter interviews turned into national magazine articles. We went from a van to a motorhome to a bigger motorhome to a bus. (And how were we going to pay for that?) There were radio shows and TV appearances, record label parties and music conventions. All of which were put on my shoulders. My marriage was suffering, my performance was weakening, and my spiritual life was on a downward spiral. I was like my car, continually running on empty.
I can remember vividly the day all of the pressure came to a boil and my stress came to a head. We had just performed an acoustic set at the Dove Awards press conference in Nashville. The proceedings were winding down and I was off in a corner on my mobile phone talking with a friend/business partner about how we would finance our spring tour. I got off of the phone frustrated and walked with the rest of the band to our cars and we headed home. On the way, amidst an argument with Jennifer in which I was undoubtedly in the wrong, I got the voice mail that broke the camel's back. Our booking agent was needing me to fax him back answers on overdue booking offers that I hadn't even looked at yet. It was a small thing at the time but it meant another night in my office when I should be with my wife. By the time Jennifer and I stopped for dinner I was defeated, almost in tears. I told her that the stress was getting to be unbearable and if something didn't break, I was going to. Jennifer knew what I was saying before I said it and when I was finished she sensitively, but very sternly, told me what needed to be done.
That next day FFH made some big changes. We started by hiring a manager. He hired a publicist and became a filter between myself and all the pressures that I carried on my shoulders. I made a commitment to read my e-mail less and read my Bible more. I decided that my relationship with Jennifer, my family, and, most importantly, the Lord would take constant precedence over my involvement in FFH. I was tired of being Martha and was ready to be Mary for a change. In an instant the Lord turned the page to a new chapter in my life. It's a lesson that I am still learning , but I am enjoying learning it and all the peace that comes with it. I'm am understanding, for the first time, what the important things are.
God enjoys when we labor with Him in His kingdom work (see 1 Cor 5:58), and He rejoices when His children bear fruit (see John 15:16). But what He desires more that anything else is an intimate relationship with us, His creation. Our God, the one who numbered the stars and formed us from the dust, is also the God whom Jesus told us to refer to as "Father." (See the Lord's Prayer.) Our Heavenly Father did not create us to be stressed-out ministry slaves. He created us to fellowship with Him and then, out of thankfulness and gratitude for His unending love and saving grace, to partner with Him in His work. In essence, God desires our time more than our "time-card." It has taken me twenty-five years to begin to understand what put Mary at the Saviors feet and kept Martha in the kitchen, but the Lord is patiently showing me what is important and what is not. Just like Mary knew that time with the savior was more important that time for the savior, the Lord want's us to understand that He wants our time more than our energy. Then, out of the time spent with the Father, comes the stuff that's needed for ministry.
"Lord, help me to be like Mary, to spend time at Your feet. I need that closeness and intimacy. Help me to make time with You a priority in my life. Show me the things that should be important to me and help me to focus my time on those things."
For further thought and discussion
1. Am I so caught up in doing things that I have neglected my relationship with the Lord?
2. What in my life is getting the time and attention that I need to be giving to the "important things?" Make a list if necessary and begin to pray that the Lord would help you to eliminate those hindrances.
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