Are We Piddling Around Instead of Doing Something?

Hello weekend readers. Before we start I just want you to know that word “piddling” has nothing to do with potty-training! Webster’s defines ‘piddling’ as: to waste time doing something that is not important or useful. Now that is something I can sadly attest to, how about you? I know I have stuff that must get done but dang-it I’m going to play one more game of Solitaire on my computer! In all honesty though, it’s easy to get to piddling and by the end of the day, you feel hollow because you’ve really done nothing even though you have a list a mile-long that needs to get accomplished.

I want to share a true story, a rather sad one actually, about “piddling around” – that turned out deadly. Some of you may remember Flight 401 bound in 1972, for Miami from New York City, which crashed into the Everglades killing 101 people, 75 people including some of the crew survived. The FAA quickly determined this was pilot(s) error—why? A light that indicates proper deployment of the landing gear failed to come on. The flight engineer fiddled with the bulb, tried to remove it—wouldn’t budge. Another crew member tried-nada and then another. Sadly, all eyes were on a little light bulb that refused to be dislodged from its socket and no one noticed that the plane was losing altitude. The FAA stated: “The crash occurred while the entire cockpit crew was preoccupied with a burnt-out landing gear indicator light. They failed to notice that the autopilot had inadvertently been disconnected, and as a result, the aircraft gradually lost altitude and crashed.”

I think we can agree that our “piddling around” is not always that drastic but the end product is similar in that it was certainly a waste of time and nothing was achieved. In this day of living at “warp speed” we find ourselves in the whirlwind of arguing, debating, degrading one another—sadly, even in the church! Instead of focusing on what really matters, we stomp our feet like little children—or like the pilots—we fiddle with things that do not help, do not share grace and forgiveness, and during all this wasted time, those in need of a touch from Jesus are “going down in the plane.”

The Apostle Paul was faced with this in the early church in Corinth. The churches there did a few things very well: fighting, quarreling, and mixing up worldly desires as if they were true Biblical teaching. He wrote to them in 1 Corinthians 3:3-5 (from *The Passion Translation which really brings home Paul’s stern warning):

“…for you are living your lives dominated by the mind-set of the flesh.
Ask yourselves: Is there jealousy among you?
Do you compare yourselves with others?
Do you quarrel like children and end up taking sides?
If so, this proves that you are living your lives centered on yourselves,
dominated by the mind-set of the flesh, and behaving like unbelievers.
For when you divide yourselves up in groups—
a “Paul group” and an “Apollos group”—
you’re acting like people without the Spirit’s influence.
Who is Apollos, really? Or who is Paul?
Aren’t we both just servants through whom you believed our message?
Aren’t each of us doing the ministry the Lord has assigned to us?”

Friends, we have a choice to make. We can “piddle around” with what we think is right, what we think others should do or not do, stick to the “my way or the highway attitude” and forget what Jesus taught us to do. It’s our choice, but remember in the choices that we make, are they for the good of only “I/Me” or do my choices encompass the grace, love, forgiveness, and patience that Jesus asks us to practice in our lives to help other lives?

Make sure you ask God first, in declaring where you will or won’t compromise—you might find that God will tear that declaration apart and say, “my child, start over and quit piddling about your own self…share the good news I have given you in my Son, Jesus Christ.”

Go back to the story of how “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” It’s a complex story, but in the end, it proved that selfishness, narcissism, indifference, and stubbornness burned through an empire that most of the world at that time feared and respected. I don’t think we want that here in our country or any country…we don’t want that in our churches and synagogues, in our mosques and temples, and we don’t want that in our schools, our hospitals, our businesses and God forbid-our homes.

Let’s pray that God would show all of us when to bend/compromise, where to stand firm, but most of all, how to speak and act in love as we work at advancing God’s kingdom in making disciples. So, let’s ask ourselves, “what can I let go of today in order to focus on the bigger picture?” Really—let’s stop piddling and whining…we’re missing out on an incredible adventure with the Lord, AMEN!

*The Passion Translation® is translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts by Dr. Brian Simmons, published by BroadStreet Publishers. For more information click: