Some Thoughts on Plate Size

I’ve heard (or read) Mark Driscoll at various points talk about “figuring out the size of your plate and then filling it.” That’s the framework for this post — plate size.

If you look at great men, and what they accomplish, you will see that they were able to produce at an almost superhuman rate. For instance, C.H. Spurgeon would often work 18 hours a day. John Owen generally slept only four hours a night. Consider John Calvin’s work put out over 30 years: a 1200 page (multiple times re-edited) opus of Protestant theology; 22 volumes (for the modern editions) of commentaries on the majority of the books of the Bible; preaching many times a week; tracts and treatises; and a massive body of letters.

God gives some men inordinately greater ability than others. He gave these men massive plates, so that they might accomplish what they did, to build the church, and to give Him glory. Certainly God did not need such men, but I believe that men like these were truly gifts from Christ to his church.

Like most aspiring _______ (insert whatever, in my case, “pastor”, “writer”, “theologian”), I would like to think that I am gifted — that I have “a big plate.”

For example, when I read about great men not sleeping a lot, I think, “I could do that. All I have to do is work hard late into the night.” It’s easy, in theory, until I don’t get enough sleep. Consider this: I will get up at about 4:35 a.m. (getting about 6 1/2 hours of sleep), and go to work. After working five or six hours, I’ll go to class. When I get home, I am shot. I can’t focus and I can’t work. I become, generally, worthless.

Now, I need to look realistically about my plate size, and not wish or pretend that God gave me a bigger plate than he did. I also can’t waste the plate that God has given me — I must use my time wisely, and work hard and diligently. Often, the amount that I can get done if I don’t waste time amazes me. And often, time doesn’t offer enough of itself, and I can’t get done all that I want to do.

I’m not sure how big my plate is. I trust that God will give me grace sufficient for what he calls me to do; but he won’t give it until I need it. I do know that I often waste my plate space, and my plate size won’t be clear until I steward my time wisely.

I must faithfully do what God has called me to do at this point. My priorities must be:

1. Maintaining an intimate and transformative relationship with my King.

2. Shepherding and faithfully serving Laura.

3. Faithfully leading our community group — especially by praying for these, my friends.

4. Pursuing my studies with excellence, and making the most of the opportunity to be prepared for the ministry.

5. Working (at Starbucks) — being a light to my co-workers and working as unto the Lord.

6. Writing, in all forms. (This blog is a means to that end).

Whatever the size of my plate, God has made it big enough to do the things he has called me to do, the things I’ve just listed. This, right now, is my calling. May the King receive the glory for the work of this steward, and may I be faithful in it.


About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in Priorities, Stewardship. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Some Thoughts on Plate Size

  1. Brother, thank you for this post. I’ve struggled with this very thing – wanting to do more (read, write, etc.), but find it physically impossible because I have a full-time job, class and my wife and three young daughters. Your words have been both a challenge and encouragement!

  2. dslavich says:

    Thanks Danny (great name by the way!),
    I’m glad you were encouraged. It is also encouraging to me, when I hear about men like you who have so much more on their plate than I do.


  3. Pingback: Blog Highlight: The Resurgence - Words of Encouragement to Seminary Students « Musings of a Wannabe Muser

  4. Hey guys – just wait until you have a little flock of kids running around 🙂

    Danny, this is a good thing to wrestle with and something that I feel must be discerned in Christian community. First of all, your wife will be one of your greatest assets to help you see when your plate is full. She will see the state of your heart many times better than you will. Also, your brothers will need to weigh in on what they see happening in your soul – when plates are overflowing there is an unhealthy burden felt by all around you. Now ministry is a burden and will ever come with pressure and concerns (read Paul in 2 Cor 11:28) – but where joy is sapped, time with God is suffering and spiritual thirst begins to run dry…plate is too full.

    Don’t be a lazy pastor – we don’t need more of those, but don’t heap guilt upon yourself if your “output” is not that of a Spurgeon. Do your work as unto the Lord, love the people in your life well, and learn to rest. I am learning much of this stuff the hard way…but the school of Christ must be full of repentance and continual embrace of the gospel. For those who suffer sloth and those who think it is up to their schedule to save the world.


  5. dslavich says:

    Thanks for these words Reid. I didn’t realize you had commented until just now(WordPress didn’t send me an email).

    God was in it.

    Your comment encouraged me a lot, and spoke to situation I am in, literally, right now!.
    God Bless,

  6. Pingback: The Way I Think, and a Question For You « Musings of a Wannabe Muser

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