Let’s not Succumb to too Many Demands


“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”  – Thomas Merton

Are you ever overwhelmed with trying to make a difference?  Every day provides so many opportunities to do so much for others who so very need so much. On one hand, that is a great gift because we should never be without opportunity to fulfill the call to be the Body of Christ. There is no day that we would not have opportunity to step up and be the church. On the other hand, the multitude of demands, concerns and projects that need us can also be a major pitfall that seduces us into being overcome by what Merton referred to as the ‘violence if our times.’ We get inveigled into thinking  if we just try hard enough, at enough things, enough times, then there has to be positive result somewhere. That sort of notion leads us all down a road that is destructive for everyone concerned. Destructive because we cannot possibly do all things, for all people, at all times.

Our response to a world gone mad with a violence of needing to be busy all the time, needs to be an act of discerning.  Each day, we need to be engaged in discernment in the most intentional of ways.  As I said earlier, the fulsome needs around us provide us opportunity to make a difference; we just cannot fix it all at once.  But if we have a keen eye and a willing spirit we might discern who we can help today. We might be able to see, one person, one project, one concern at a time how we can be the Body of Christ. There is a plenitude of possibilities for us to help others. We become no help to others if we spread ourselves so thin that we cannot help anyone. So my prayer is that each of us may have the eyes to see where we need to be each day.

Perhaps we might begin each day with Merton’s prayer of discernment:

O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.

10 thoughts on “Let’s not Succumb to too Many Demands

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  1. I certainly feel that I sometime succumb to the violence of our times. We are constantly being beaten over the head with drama and emergenciesin the media certainly. I try to remind myself of Steve Jobs philosophy of do one thing and do it well. One, may not work for me, but perhaps 3 or 5. Do just 5 things and do them well.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I think iris so true that if we focus on a few goals at a time we can achieve or fulfill those goals much better. If those are around being present to or helping another, we are all better off when we discern who we might help today … In tis moment.

  2. Thank you Kevin – once again you hit the nail on the head at the right time!
    I empathize with the poor horse in the picture and I am muttering to myself”One thing at a time, Once thing at a time!”

    1. I used your story in my sermon on Sunday…. You know … The pony story …. I was preaching about how we get through the mst difficult of things when we know that even n the deepest piles of crap, God s with us. …thanks for the inspiration

  3. The trick is always to know your limits. I absolutely agree with the statements about the media drama/circus attempting to get into your head. All it does is swamp you. I’ve written about this before — you have to have your own oxygen mask on first — then you can help others. if you are trying to do too much, you’ll never breathe enough air. Multi-tasking is just B.S. There is no such thing, you can only do ONE thing at a time if you want to do anything well.

  4. We all need to read that over and over ! Merton
    Is the best . Havn’t prayed meetings prayer
    For long time . Beautiful , thanks Kevin!

    1. Dear Kevin, Chris and Bob, This post was so timely for me. In my case, the onslaught of concerns is the request for donations: to Obama’s campaign, to George McGovern’s Southern Poverty Law Project (to combat racial ignorance and violence)to the Humane Society of two countries and various no kill shelters (my main concern) and feeling a bit guilty that I cannot support the Episcopal and Lutheran churches in Arizona and remember our loved St. Mark’s in Tecumseh. I am retired and will gladly give of my time to my friends and my community. I feel so blessed by my life and my time. Bring it on if I have the talent, I will help. I truly feel at ONE with the Church of God in Christ Jesus.
      Love Evelyn

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