Friday, May 22, 2015

Settling for More

Long ago, contentment was considered a virtue. The quiet repose of an aged laborer spoke volumes of their character. The simple smile upon a tired and tireless widow maintaining her subsistence farm screamed glory. The forty year career in the same position resulted in a glorious retirement party of gratitude.

Today, the world only settles for more. That is, they can only be content today if they believe tomorrow will be better. Today's job is okay as long as they don't have it next year. Today's house is sufficient as long as they have 500 more square feet in a decade. Today's wife is okay as long as there's an upgrade before the silver anniversary.

Below the surface of the "settling for more" virtue is impatience, ingratitude, and anxiety. Our character is so shallow that the depths of contentment are never reached.

Finding a solution might prove fruitless if we only look within.

That's why the ancients were commended when looking beyond. They looked beyond themselves to a God who called people to positions, places, and responsibilities. They received their callings with a sense of duty (not destiny). They stayed where they were helpful because they believed helpfulness is more important than having more. Work is primarily contribution, not compensation, remuneration, or even recognition. It's a willingness to love at home, at work, among my neighbors, and out to the nations.

Today, you can have gratitude and contentment, because today, you have been placed to serve those around you. All the recognition we need comes from the eyes of a heavenly Father who is pleased with good work, done well.

Stay in your marriage. Don't just assume "stay" means "don't divorce." Stay with a sense of vocational faithfulness. Stay to cultivate, grow, and develop your marriage.

Stay as a parent. Stay in your children's lives, no matter their age. Stay in a state of prayer for your kin. Stay in a role-model mentality.

Stay in your local church. Stay in good times and bad. Stay to see growth. Stay amid fights. Stay through reconciliation. Stay for the new pastor. Stay for the old pastor. Stay for the visiting preacher and the lay preacher. Stay in a place of service.

Stay in your job. Stay in your house. Stay in your neighborhood. Stay there because God has put you there. Stay to serve. Stay to bring human flourishing.

He who calls you is faithful; and He will bring His work to pass. Stay where He has called you, stay until His work is done.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wealth and Poverty; Stewardship and Service

Note well this wise teaching from Dallas Willard:

    "From within this kingdom perspective on human worth and well-being emerges a solution to the major social problems of wealth and poverty. That solution consists in a new type of human being, people who have assimilated the character of Christ into all areas of life and society. These people clearly see that giving [charitable contributions, tithes, offerings, etc.] is only a part and by no means the largest part of stewardship before our Lord. These people understand it is part of their responsibility to control the world's possessions in a way that ministers to all. The poor are much more to be benefited by the godly controlling the goods of this world than by their performing a pious handwashing that only abandons those goods to the servants of 'mammon.' We are not speaking of political power as normally understood, but of personal vocation fulfilled in the power of God. Possession and direction of the forces of wealth are as legitimate expression of the redemptive rule of God in human life as is Bible teaching or a prayer meeting. For example, it is as great and as difficult a spiritual calling to turn factories and the mines, the banks and the department stores, the schools and government agencies for the Kingdom of God as it is to pastor a church or serve as an evangelist.

   There truly is no division between sacred and secular except what we have created. And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into sacred and the secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and to the cause of Christ. Holy people must stop getting into 'church work' as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work."

From The Spirit of the Disciplines