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*This post is the fourth part of “Is joining a small group a waste of time?” series, aiming to help answers questions and concerns regarding joining a small group.

Little_Miss_Busy

There are many reasons why people do not want to join a small group. Some do not think they need to be in a small group because they are (or at least they think they are) spiritually ok. We addressed this in the second part of this series. Some other do not dare to join a small group because either they are shy, they are afraid to be around people, or they had such a bad experience with people (betrayal, etc) that they do not dare or have promised not to open up anymore. We addressed this in the third part of this series.

However, there is one more reason that many people give in this regard. This reason might be the most used. It’s this: “I am so busy, I don’t have time to go to small group meetings.” The word ‘busy’ is so rampant that it has been overly used and sometimes it has lost its meaning. In a blog post series around busyness, I have already discussed what busyness really is and some real causes for our busyness that we have to be aware of. However, with regards to joining a small group, I have a bit more to say … hopefully helpful.

Firstly, when you say, “I don’t have time for small group meetings,” … as a matter of fact, when you say, “I don’t have time for [fill in the blank],” it is never the issue of whether you have time or not. It is always the issue of priority, first and foremost. Everyone has 24 hours a day, everyone has to decide what to do during those hours, and everyone has the right (and sometimes obligations) to do what they want to do during those hours. Inevitably, we decide to do what we think as important in our life. For example, I will never ‘have time’ for golf on weekends, at least for now. Maybe in the future when my kids are much older. But not for now. On the other hand, I will always ‘have time’ for dates with my wife, not just for now. If I don’t have time, I will make time for it. Work can be piling up, and the world may be coming to an end. But my weekly date with my wife is something that I guarded well against all other ‘competing’ commitments. So, the next time you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for that,” make sure you know that it is not because you don’t have time, but it is because you see ‘that’ as not as important as other things that you are currently doing because you will always make time for the things that are important to you.

Talking about priority, we have different frameworks in deciding what is important to us. The factors include on what stage we are in life, what we are trying to achieve in the future – long term and short term, what problems or issues we are facing right now that need our urgent attention, etc. Unfortunately, many of us live our lives unintentionally. We simply follow the flow of the culture not knowing where we want to go. If that’s you, then I believe you will be confused in life and you will end up trying to get your hands on whatever you see in front of you. Sometimes the slogan ‘Live in the moment’ or ‘You only live once’ is simply an excuse for an unexamined life. Many people who end up successful in this life, however way you define ‘success’, do not end up where they are by accident. Many of them live a very intentional life. Yes, some might by accident became successful. However, those are exceptions rather than rules. You really don’t want to use that as your goal in life. Very shaky ground that is. So, you need to decide what you want to do in life based on generally what you want to become or where do you want to be in life.

Whether you like it or not, your decision of this nature will be influenced by people around you: your family, your upbringing, your friends, your mentor, books, and also the media. They have a voice in your life as to what should be important to you. Some are very wise, some are well-meaning, some are not so well-meaning, while some are blatantly trying to ruin your life. Whether you like it not, you will decide whom you listen to, and whom you shut yourself of. Inevitably, this is very much based on whom you trust. If you trust someone, a book, an author, a mentor, or anything, then you will more likely to listen to them, you will allow yourself to be influenced by them, and you will set your priority based on what they have to say. Hence, your priority in life really reflects the voice that you listen to, and it reflects whom you trust.

Now, you might know where I am heading with this. As a Christian, if you call yourself one, then by definition you are following Jesus Christ. That means, you will listen to His voice more than other voices. It means that you allow God’s Word to influence how you set your priorities in life. I have established in previous posts that Christians are not meant to live solo (click here), God uses community of believers to grow His disciples (click here), and small groups are key in establishing gospel communities in local churches (click here). So, if we sincerely call ourselves Christians, then we must take cue from the Bible, and we must then make this a priority. This also means that we must not just ‘have time’ for small groups, we must also ‘make time’ for small groups or whatever your local church has decided as the main ways your church promotes community.

Of course, I don’t want this to be a guilt-trip. I don’t want you to start joining a small group out of guilt. Although, if this becomes a gentle rebuke and this helps align your priority, then perhaps ‘guilt’ is a good thing. However, I really wants all of us, who use ‘I am busy and I don’t have time for [fill in the blank]’ excuse to really inspect our lives and our priorities to really know whom we are really following.

May I also remind you that we are not following a God that restricts us and wants to tear us down. Rather, we are following a God who loves you, who has given you His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins, and who wants to set you free to be whom you are created to be. This is a God that you should trust. He is the only God that you can trust. To a God like this, you have no other option but to worship and surrender to His will and design for your life because there is where you are most free. Allow His voice to help with your priority in whatever arena of your life. So, stop saying that you don’t have time for small groups or for other things that are important to God. Make time for it because it’s worth it, and because God thinks you’re worth it.

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