Almost 10 years ago I heard a sermon that has stuck with me through various seasons--and served as a reminder countless times about keeping 'the main thing the main thing.'
The Scripture at the center of the sermon was Nehemiah 6. Committed to rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem (a cause/purpose God had led him to), Nehemiah rejected those who showed up with invitations and distracting opportunities for him. One of the chief opponents of Nehemiah's work, Sanballat, sent messengers inviting Nehemiah to a distinguished meeting. His response is recorded in Nehemiah 6:3:
So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" Nehemiah 6:3 (NAS)
Every knock on our door, every invitation to serve, every phone call asking for our participation, needs to be prayerfully considered. Just because you receive a call, it doesn't necessarily mean it is from God.
I hope I am not being misunderstood. I am a huge advocate of ministry and service. I think God has uniquely gifted each person--that there is work He has prepared in advance for us to do. I would even go so far as to say, as a Mom, we should be modeling ministry/community service to our children. I think our flesh, our pride, our guilt, our desire to please, etc. can all contribute to our lack of focus on identifying the main things He has called us to in a particular season.
I am learning this the hard way.
We would all do well to remember the steadfast and courageous words of Nehemiah. "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down." (I recently put it on an index card that I attached to the front of my calendar.)
God has been faithful to impress upon me the areas of ministry for which He has equipped me and given me a passion. For me, in this season, my great work is my marriage, my children, writing and relational ministry in a couple of key places. I am (re)learning that this means saying no to countless other things--many of them good things.
There will undoubtedly be other seasons with other great works...but right now this is it.
"I am doing a great work and I cannot come down."