Jesus: The Lord of Order

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Written by monthly contributor, Natalie Didlake.

Oh, how I love to organize! How about you?

Whether you love it or dread it, we all have to do it. Which means we all have to decide what to organize, when to organize it, and what to let go. Which means we all need a grid for thinking about how and why to work towards order in our homes!

The Hyper-Organized Homemaker

Some of us are perpetual organizers. This would be me. These people swoon over label-makers, calendar apps, and laminators…all in hopes that we can pull our lives perfectly together. Then, we promise ourselves, we will begin the real stuff of living.

The Mellow Mommy

Others (not me) squeeze a little organizing and prioritizing in on the back end. A little here, a little there. These people like lots of social time, and they are always having haphazard adventures. These people don’t really have much of a plan, because their plan is to wing it! These people figure “it will get done somehow.” Sometimes.  Sometimes not.

A Grid

Organized or not, how do any of us know when to work hard toward order, and when to let it go or save it for later? When do we push forward on a schedule, and when do we relax, or pause to meet the needs of the moment? What is the proper grid?

Our perfect example is, of course, Jesus. We don’t have a copy of his day planner. But in the gospels, we have sketches of the way he made organizational decisions.

You can read through the gospels to find lots of examples, but I want to share the one that has been most valuable to me, a little nugget of a story, from Luke 4:

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’

Let’s extract some working principles. (This example deals specifically with organizing time, but the underlying principle can apply to all any organizational decision.)

Jesus Flexed

Even though the day was nearly over, Jesus flexed in his time. He gave personal time and attention to all the people who came to him with legitimate needs. He followed through with “every one of them.”

We need to flex. Order is not order for its own sake. Order exists to make life more livable and lovely, for the sake of people. Yes, all you organizational junkies (you know who you are!)…people!

People are precious. They are the only reason we should work toward order. Your laminator and label-maker should never take over your time…they should be used to serve people! Which means on occasion, you won’t have time to make labels! Instead, you will be flexing beyond your schedules and systems, to meet the more important, less schedulable needs of the people in your life.

(If you have an organizational obsession like me, also see Mark 6:30-35, where a tired Jesus cuts off his get-away time, when he sees a crowd chasing him down and feels overwhelming compassion for them!)

Jesus Fixed a Limit

Let’s look quickly at the rest of that passage from Luke 4, for an example of Jesus making order/organization a first priority:

The people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them

The next day, the people came after him again. They wanted him to stay and keep ministering to them, but he didn’t. He knew he had reached a fixed point where he needed to press on in accordance with his schedule and system, leaving the people behind. Rightly, organization took priority.

We all understand and use this principle in obvious ways. Your husband wouldn’t stay home from work because the kids want him to read stories all day! It wouldn’t be in accordance with his purpose, the purpose of loving the family by working to earning money.

Likewise, a mother who just hangs around, hyper-available to anyone and everyone, will probably not meet the needs of her family. Flexibility doesn’t mean you can’t also maintain an orderly, vision-driven, peaceful, well-kept home! But how do we choose between flexing and fixing a limit?

Jesus Purpose, Our Purpose: Love

The problem is that most of us do not have a good understanding of the root principle at work, so we can’t apply it properly in more complicated situations. We end up making our calls about organization haphazardly, or even worse, according to our feelings. Unfortunately, that’s the grid many of us moms oftentimes use, isn’t it?

We do not have a clearly defined purpose for our organization.

But Jesus’ decision was not haphazard. He didn’t aimlessly allow his time to be taken up for a little while, later being forced by boredom or exhaustion to randomly draw the line. He had a clear explanation for the people:

‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’

Jesus’ grid for organizational decision-making is described last: it was his purpose. And his purpose was love.  He flexed in order to show love through an extended time of healing and teaching, but later fixed some boundaries & moved on with his plan, in order to love those in other towns as well. Love can mean either flexing or fixing limits in our use of organization.

How simple! How easily and beautifully applied! What a resource we have in Jesus we have to draw upon, as we order our homes.

But really, ladies…only if you truly get it in your heart that God, the Great Organizer, in his mysterious way, has both flexed and fixed his standard. For you.

In his love, he planned and organized for you… “[choosing] us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4)

In his love, he flexed for you, left his throne, “made himself nothing…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7)

Some Examples of Flexing in Your Organization:

  • Training children to love and share, rather than bicker, is more important than a nice sock drawer.
  • Dinner is more important than having folders, sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders in your computer files.
  • A child who seems to be grumpy or sad may need affection and additional attention. Laundry, however, does not become grumpy or sad when not folded.

Some Examples of Fixing a Limit:

  • It is loving for a mother to stop for small things like peeling stickers off a page. It is unloving, however, for a mother to allow children to interrupt anyone, anytime, at will.
  • It is great to be a mother who serves. True service to your children, however, may mean that you require your children to pick up after themselves (training them as a service to God, and preparing them for life).

What can you change about your organizational habits to better reflect Jesus, the Lord of Order?

About NDidlake

Natalie Didlake is the mother of three lively little ones, Sabrina (age 5), Roarke (age 3), and Alexia (age 2). She has been married to the winsome and brilliant Aaron for 6 years. They live in Mississippi, where they still have no clue how to be "southern." Natalie's goals are to bring the gospel to bear on every ounce of womanhood, love and enjoy her family, and maybe capture some of it in writing. In between, Natalie likes to squeeze in cooking, blogging, taking pictures of her cute kids, couponing, and saving oodles of money by bargain-hunting. Natalie blogs at Guarded by the Gospel.

19 Responses to Jesus: The Lord of Order

  1. Lisa Grace March 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    SO glad I read this … thanks!

  2. Kathy February 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I am an empty-nester & grandmother of 2 small boys, having raised 2 girls and a boy. I LOVE hearing all of you, who are so busy with small children and striving to be the “perfect” moms, just like I once was. For the record, there are no rules, except raise them to be respectful, loving, Christian people who can be responsible for their actions, get a good education, and jobs, and multiply. You need to be praised for doing God’s work and being there for your families. I know how much work, and joy children bring you, if you just take the time to appreciate them. They grow up so fast! God bless you!

  3. Angela January 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I thought this was an extremely well-written article. Very insightful and very helpful! Thank you for sharing!


  4. Ann Dunagan January 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I enjoyed this Natalie!

    I definitely have tendencies toward the relaxed, spontaneous, and “wing-it” side, but many years ago I recognized this side of the “ditch” of organization, and I began to purposefully glean from more naturally organized women, like you! I knew that I couldn’t just be sporadic. I wanted to be intentional and to transform “my” ways into God’s order.

    I especially liked your example of the husband who can’t just do whatever he feels like doing; instead, he needs to work and to fulfill God’s purpose for the family. As stay-at-home (or mission-going) Christian homemakers and mothers, neither can we “default” into a lazy or half-hazard attitude to simply do whatever we “feel” like doing; rather, we need to be diligent and surrendered to God’s purposes.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. glenda January 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    This post was exactly what I needed to hear right now, tying so many things together in such a good way. Thank you so much.

  6. Missy January 25, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    I love to organize but am sometimes at a loss at how to do it well. This encouraged me to take a look at how I organize the most important parts of my life and allow God to disorganize my plans if he wants! He’s in control, I’m not. That’s always a great and much needed reminder. Hoping to get a lot of the “important things” accomplished today!
    Thank you for your insight!

  7. Amanda January 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Great words! All these wonderful points are yet MORE inspiration to remember that Jesus was able to order His (very limited, precious) time perfectly because He sought time regularly to be with the Father. If Jesus needed to do it, I most definitely do too!

  8. Honey January 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    This was a post that came at a good time…just a wee bit late. We’re thinning out and simplifing. Today I lost my temper and yelled at my little one because she pulled out toys I had just organized..again..twice. That sweet little face crumbled and cried…”I wanted to do it too”…..pulled the label maker out of my apron (it holds cleanser spray wipes as well as tags extra cassette for labels, tags and pencils.) pulled her into my lap,apologized for being hateful and cuddled her.

    I’ve realized if Jesus can make time….shesh…I can definitely make time. Also…my Sunshine…she’s just like her Honey…and loves the label maker and proudly pressed the letters to make her own labels!

    • Natalie January 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      Honey, that is so cute and…a bit ironically funny! Isn’t it amazing, that we believe labels and Rubbermaid tubs will give us peace in our heart!

      Best wishes keeping that label maker in your pocket. ;)

  9. Becky January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    I love this! I’m definitely working on teaching my little ones responsibility as I’ve gotten quite lax about it lately. I love that “True service to your children, however, may mean that you require your children to pick up after themselves”. So true! Thank you for this post! :)

  10. MrsWheeler January 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    this is such a blessing to me right now! What a timely article. I am the ultimate mellow mommy- it’s Soooo hard to be organized for me! I have been reading Managers of their homes and it too has been a great help!

  11. WAPharmGirl January 24, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    This post was perfect for me today. I have two rooms that need to be tackled and organized. I just open the doors, sigh, and close them again. I jumped in and got one done. Phew!

  12. Elizabeth January 24, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    I needed this today. The balance between task oriented and people oriented life is so hard to find. I feel as if I swing from one end to the other. Looking to Jesus and His example is always a good place to find balance.

  13. Andrea January 24, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Very well stated and what a great reminder! I have been desperately trying to organize several things at the beginning of this new year. I needed the reminder to put Jesus in my plan because too many times I do my purpose, and not His!

  14. Jenn January 24, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    great post! I loved it and needed to be remind that Jesus does want me to have an orderly home.

  15. Jennifer January 24, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Such a great read! What a reminder to me, the task-oriented, check it off the list person, to remember that ‘without love I am nothing’. I need to be more people-oriented. Thanks~

  16. Courtney (WomenLivingWell) January 24, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Lol! The grumpy and sad laundry cracked me up! It’s such a fine line of balance…it’s a journey – and during the season of little ones it’s a challenge!
    Great post!

  17. Lacey Wilcox January 24, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Such a sweet reminder of what true order is. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the things that I think “have” to be done, that I forget the things that really “need” to be done. Grateful for the Holy Spirit’s words through you.

  18. Shannon Hazleton January 24, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Well, thank goodness the unfolded laundry doesn’t get grumpy, or we’d be in a sad state around here! :) Thank you for he lovely, and helpful reminder. It really takes staying tuned-in to His voice throughout the day, doesn’t it? God is so kind and gracious.