Years ago, I realized that I didn’t really like going to conferences related to my work. I almost gave up reading anything related to pastoring and church growth. There was one big reason for this: I wasn’t “amazing.” Listening to the experts often left me with the sense that if there wasn’t something unique about me, some standout quality that made what I do different from others, then I wasn’t living up to my full potential. Being somewhat effective wasn’t enough, I thought I had to be highly effective. The message I came away with was that being average was not an option.
I soon realized that I wasn’t alone. People would talk to me about their lives and work. They would tell me that they read a book or heard someone talk about living a certain kind of life and that now they were feeling discontent with being “just” a mom, a computer programmer, a teacher, or whatever they were at the time. Some asked me if they should make a major life change, but they had real responsibilities and no specific calling toward anything other than what they were doing. The messages they were absorbing just left them feeling like their current life was less than what it should be.
Here’s the problem. These people were being faithful to God and others. They were serving, working, and providing. They were loving their family, friends, and neighbors. So why wasn’t this enough?
Well, it is enough. There is another voice, in another book, that tells us the kind of life we should aspire to live. “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
Christians do have aspiration. Those who are saved by grace and made alive to God by the Spirit want to live. We do not give up ambition and just wait out our time on earth until we go to heaven. We want a life.
We aspire to the quietness of trust in God rather than the restlessness of having to prove ourselves. We rest in God’s ability to do his will and we take joy in our humble service to him.
In faith, we entrust ourselves and others to God who holds us all accountable. We let others stand before God without meddling in their business as if they must stand before us to be judged.
We work. Manual labor and mental labor are both a joy to us because we are reflecting the glory of God and serving the good of others.
Quietness of spirit, attentiveness to our own lives, and productive activity are our ambition, wherever we are and in whatever we do. This message will set us free from the tyranny of the spectacular, the amazing, the fantastic. It will free us to be faithful and fruitful and to feel good about it. This freedom is highly motivating.
We will talk more about this on Sunday. I look forward to worshipping God with you.