Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit." You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that."JAMES 4:13–15
Haunting but true words for the pandemic experience of most of us. In the 5280 Fellowship, we walk through a coaching exercise that could be a simple but practical tool to help you rightly see the various aspects of life God calls you to steward with him.
Draw three concentric circles on a piece of paper. Label the inner one “control,” the middle one “influence,” and the outer circle “concern.” Now reflect on a challenging situation at work, with family, between you and friends, or at your church. With that situation in mind, what belongs in each of those three circles for you?
Think of “control” positively here, not in an unhealthy or overbearing way. Where do you have real responsibility to act in this situation? What is within your limited power to change or effect?
Most situations don’t depend only upon ourselves, but involve others. In this circle, we can potentially shape a situation, but the outcome isn’t entirely in our hands. We have partial influence, but not total. We have limited but important agency to steward with God here.
It is important to realize how finite, dependent, and — honestly — unimportant we are in many situations. Where do you need to bring your concerns to God? What do you need to lament that you cannot change? What do you deeply feel but can hardly shape?
This reflection is a great way to consider James 4. We do have real agency to steward before God on behalf of others. We do have certain limitations that we need to embrace. A pandemic year showed, most of all, that there is far more in the outer circles than we believe or have grown used to.
Brian is the VP of Formation here at DIFW and also leads our 5280 Fellowship program. Prior to landing at DIFW, he served in pastoral ministry for thirteen years and at Denver Seminary for four years. His vocation includes moving ideas out into life through relationships and conversation – whether that applies to God, work, the Church, good beer, or Liverpool Football Club. He married way out of his league, and spends most of his free-time being parented by his two daughters.