What “Ought” You be Doing?

I have to confess. Recently, I attended a social function that I had no desire to attend. I felt I “ought” to be present, yet my spirit grumbled within. Afterall, I am very busy. I have things to do. When I do have a few minutes of free time, I don’t want someone else deciding for me how that time “should” be spent.

So what’s the problem with this scenario? While I was grumbling at the rest of the world, the one responsible for my choice was me. In reality, the “oughts” and “shoulds” of my life don’t come from without; they (at least primarily) come from my own internal programs.

In A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly tell us “our real problem, in failing to center down, is not a lack of time; it is, I fear, in too many of us, lack of joyful, enthusiastic delight in Him, lack of deep, deep-drawing love directed toward Him at every hour of the day and night.”

When I focus on my busy-ness, my schedule, my rights, my interests, my reputation, my image, my success…and forget to focus on the deep love of God…I must confess that my choices of activities become centered on:

  • What makes me look better?
  • What keeps everyone from being upset with me?
  • What “ought” I be doing right now?
  • What “should” I accomplish today?

Instead, as Christians (especially as Christian leaders), we need to obey the Greatest Commandment and focus on our purpose for living: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). When God is my focus, moment by moment throughout each day, my choices of activities (and attitudes about them) become his choices and, thus, his very call on my life. I may still be busy, but I have the confidence that I am busy “about the Father’s business.”

And that changes everything.

Thomas Kelly describes the results in such an inviting manner, “life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm. And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.”

So what “ought” you be doing right now?

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