If you Google “intentional neglect” you’ll find an array of complex information and discouraging news. It’s not light reading.
However, that phrase lodged in my mind several weeks ago when our pastor encouraged his Sunday-evening congregation to intentionally neglect those things that keep them from their goals and purposes.
He was not talking about neglecting people or responsibilities, but activities that grab hold of our attention and devour our time. Email. Television. Computer games, and other misplaced priorities that aren’t necessarily bad.
He shared the story of a violinist who felt compelled to complete all her household chores before practicing. Her compulsion to clean took precedence over development of her gift. She finally realized that she would never become a virtuoso until she put her gift first.
Though I am not a violinist, I can relate with this woman’s compulsive behavior for tying up loose ends. As I work at my writing, stealing hours and minutes throughout a busy day, I am constantly tempted by uncompleted chores around me—things that should be done.
The “shoulds” are deadly.
In personal application, intentional neglect means that I do only one household chore per day when I am under deadline, check only important email, and click off the Internet before I’m tempted to read the latest headline, gossip or gadget report.
Our pastor biblically encouraged us through Nehemiah 6, a chapter which outlines the distractions Nehemiah faced when trying to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in the 400s BC. He had many detractors, yet he maintained his focus. How?
“But I prayed.”*
Nehemiah’s constant contact with the Lord kept him on target. He knew he was called, he knew his purpose, and he knew the source of his strength.
We have this same access to the God of creation, repair, and redemption. Do we use it?
We all neglect something because it is impossible to do everything. The question is, are we neglecting the right things?
*(Neh. 6:9b NIV)
Thank you, Pastor Brian Withrow.