Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is Multi-tasking Always a Virtue?

If I let myself think about it, my brain can immediately conjure the angst I felt in 1971, trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I’d had one year at a respected Bible college (thought that was enough…silly me) and had to decide what came next.

The problem stemmed from my widely, wildly varied interests and the fact that I strove for excellence in anything I tackled. (Note, I didn’t say I achieved excellence on all fronts.)

So, the dilemma. Work in the chemistry lab or arrange flowers for a living? Nursing or music teacher? Run an orphanage in Mexico or start a macramé business? Elementary Ed or linguistics?

I kid you not, the pendulum of my presumed choices swung that far. At the time, I didn’t even consider writing as a career. That sounded too far-fetched to me.

Some days I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up. And the pendulum of my daily choices still swings wide.

Many projects interest me. And I can do several of them with respectable success. But lately I’ve been convicted that just because I can doesn’t mean I should. Just because I can make creative homemade costumes for the school play doesn’t mean I’m compelled to do so. Just because I know how to hang wallpaper doesn’t mean it has to be me. Just because I’m pretty good at counted cross-stitch doesn’t mean I’m a failure if I don’t do any cross-stitch projects this decade…or finishing knitting that charcoal sweater.

If I believe…and I do…that God called me to a specific task—writing for Him—then I have to pare down my life. Some of these other things I can do get in the way.

Just because I can doesn’t mean I should, any more than knowing lots of words means I’m obligated to use them all everyday.

I’m studying the lives of some of the characters in the Bible, looking for patterns of multi-tasking. Yes, Paul preached and was a tentmaker. David was writer and worshiper and warrior. Solomon led his country and waxed philosophical in his spare time. But I don’t see the frenzy of activity that too often characterizes my life.

“I must be about my Father’s business,” Jesus explained to his adrenalin-fired parents when they finally found their lost Boy. (see Luke 2:49).

So next week, when the hostess committee chairperson from church calls to say, “You always make the most darling centerpieces for special events. Could you—?” I may just need to pull a Jesus. “Sorry, Isabelle. I must be about my Father’s business. I can make centerpieces. But I’m not called to that. My multi-tasking has kept me from what He wants me to do. I can’t allow that to happen anymore.”

I’m considering giving up ironing, too.

(For what it’s worth, I chose the Chemisty lab.)


Jennifer Tiszai said...

Amen, Cynthia! I struggle with this, too, because I have such a wide variety of interests. It feels like I continually have to revisit my priorities and committments to make sure I'm focused on my calling and not getting side tracked.

Great thought to start the week!

eileen said...

As I drove to the bank, filling out a form on the steering wheel at the red light, fumbling for my driver's license for cash back, and reaching to plug in my cell phone, I thought: WHAT am I doing? I'm living my life like there's a time clock ticking. Slowing down, something I need to learn.

eileen said...

On the way to the bank, I filled out a form on the steering wheel at a red light, fumbled for my driver's license for cash back and plugged in my cell phone. A flash of thought: WHAT am I doing? You'd think a clock was ticking. Learning to slow down is my new hobby!

Judy Grivas said...

I know this is an older post, but Cynthia I have the same dilemma. I LOVE to crochet and do other hand crafts, and I do them very well(not tooting my own horn, either). But I've had success (in non fiction articles) when I turned my writing to what happens when you let God have the control in your life... Why am I so scattered...?
Will I ever remember where God has used me? Though I have brought so much joy to others when I've given handmade blankets...shawls... unexpectedly... I've been praying for wisdom and guidance.
Judy Grivas (ACFW)