“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
The Hazards of Coasting
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” – Ecclesiastes 9:10
As I was sitting in my study wondering what I wanted to read, I randomly opened my Bible and looked at the first underlined verse that caught my eye, and “Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might” jumped off the page. My first thought after reading that was, “I wonder how many times I’ve actually used all my might to do the work at hand, and how many times I’ve just coasted?”
There are certain things I can do without giving it much thought. Although taking out the trash and making the coffee come to mind, I was actually thinking more about certain areas of ministry. I began to wonder: How many times have I entered a ministry situation without proper preparation, only to find myself not only coasting on my familiarity with the subject, but also coming up short? This happened recently at a Friday night fellowship I started.
The first night we met, I knew I was going to begin a series of teachings on Hebrews 11. Since I had already written the series, I did a brief look-over of my notes a couple of times during the week. I’m a good Bible teacher, I told myself. I don’t need to be too prepared. Teaching is my gift. Although I had not taught in public for many months, I thought my previous years of teaching would allow me to rest on my talents and experience. However, when it came time to teach the material, I found myself floundering, feeling stiff, unprepared and unfamiliar with my lesson. Instead of teaching with all my might, I coasted into the fellowship and was not at my best.
And who noticed it first? My wife. The others at the fellowship were sufficiently impressed to feed my ego, but on the way home Barbara said, “You seemed nervous. Was everything all right?” I knew then that I had coasted into the evening and didn’t give God my best.
Being prepared and giving God my best does not mean I’m trying to be perfect. It means I’m using all the strength, wisdom and abilities I have to do the job God has given me to do. It doesn’t mean comparing myself to the talents and abilities of other teachers I know, but rather comparing myself with the talents and abilities I know God has given me.
Does this mean there are never times when I should speak spontaneously? No, I’m always prepared to share with others the good things I’ve learned about God. I can talk off the top of my head for hours about a variety of Scriptural subjects. I’m a big fan of 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”