Spread Thin Doing Useful Things

Spread Thin Doing Useful Things April 21, 2012

I came across this quote from C.H. Spurgeon’s autobiography this week:

To despise no opportunity for usefulness is a leading rule for those who are wise to win souls.

Spurgeon wrote this statement in the context of describing the practices of the prominent pastor Mr Knill who took time to pray with and speak into his life as a child. Mr. Knill is credited to have prophesied that Spurgeon would be a great preacher.

I came across Spurgeon’s statement this week when I was feeling the weight of a very busy season of life. I have felt especially spread thin. As a consequence I am tempted to radically reduce the number of responsibilities I have because I feel overwhelmed. In the midst of this tension, I read the Spurgeon quote above and it caused me to think, perhaps I’m suppose to be spread thin doing useful things?

Maybe the idea of a more tranquil life of reflection and a more even pace of life, as tempting as it may be, would actually be a retreat from the front lines of “soul winning” (Now I don’t know if I like this phrase much anymore, though it was a common stock phrase of my Baptist church growing up. The phrase is exceedingly dualistic and unhelpful – why separate soul from body!). I’m not advocating workaholism either. I do see areas in my life that need more attention, not least the care of my physical body. And I need to make space in my life for exercise.

It is my genuine desire to be useful for God. I am blessed. So the tasks in my spheres of life, family, academics, and church ministry, rather than be embittered by them, rather than eliminating one of the other (I obviously can’t eliminate my family!) I’m sensing I need to embrace the manifold tasks in these spheres as opportunities to be useful. But I do need to learn how to negotiate them so that I can be healthy. I’m learning that the health comes in part from having a really great partner in my wife.

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