1/14/2009

To live quietly


Sometimes I read a passage of Scripture and don't identify with it, and can hardly believe it is true. Here is an example.

But we urge you, brothers, to do this (love the brethren) more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1 Thessalonians 4:10-11


My wife knows how to live quietly. She can invest in home and family to the point where she has to check herself and reinvest in outside things. She doesn't bother people, doesn't make a fool of herself, and to my knowledge has few if any enemies.

I am quite the opposite. I toss my opinions around, argue hard for things that may or may not matter, and am impatient with a quiet life. I do like quietness, mind you; I love to read and spend hours thinking on my own. But on the whole, I prefer a list of challenges to the prospect of sameness any day of the week. When a problem arises, I want to solve it. When a group is presented with a challenge, I want to lead the charge. And when a people struggles with apathy, I want to call them back to faithfulness.

But now, life is quiet. Feedback I get from others suggests that though I have the gifts to be a pastor, I am not steady or mature enough to be one yet. I can barely take school classes because of my work schedule. I cannot invest in the church with the same amount of time that others can. I am not leading anything, not solving any problem, not learning anything (except electric market structures in the state of Illinois).

As a result, I am bored. I am embarrassed to have anyone look at my life. And I constantly wish I were elsewhere, despite knowing the problem of discontent is in the heart rather than the circumstance.

I wish I understood better what God wants to do in me. And I wish I could offer my wife more certainty of our place and direction. But I cannot. And so I pray and I wait.

5 comments:

Mary Mc said...

Sounds familiar to where the McCullochs find ourselves these days. We should all get together!

Riley said...

Ben,
So, since you want to be a pastor, what are you doing now to prepare for that? I know, I know, how can a goon ask a question like that? I'm just wondering. Maybe you don't have time to really do anything but maybe you could start something. I mean, maybe you could invite some people over for dinner each week. I know a Chinese guy named Robert Li that is about to join and he lives at the seminary and really desires Christian fellowship. I know my opinion isn't as important as most people, but I don't look at you and think, "This dude is worthless." I am really thankful that you and Samantha are here. When you talk about stuff, whether it is politics or the church, I listen because I see you as a wise person. All that being said, I am thankful for y'all and I think our church would be missing an important piece if you were not here. Plus, taking care of Isaiah in the baby nursery is really fun. Thanks for your faithfulness even when it isn't easy.

blbartlett said...

Mary,
Thanks for always being so good at not letting people feel alone in their struggles! It is always comforting to be reminded that not only are our frustrations bearable... they're not even really unique!

Riles, thanks for those thoughts. I don't disagree... there should always be a sense of forward movement in the Christian life; movement toward maturity, greater dependence and faithfulness, a deepened prayer life, etc.

And I certainly agree with finding ways to minister. I do try- I witness to co-workers fairly regularly, mentor a couple guys, do accountability with a few others, lead a small group, and try to serve the church (college luncheons or work days) when schedule permits.

I think, though, that there is a difference between maturing, and finding a place in the kingdom where you can see how God prepared you for that location. I love my family, my friends, and my church, but I spend more time recalculating electric bills for large corporations than I do with the former. It helps me to voice these things, I think, because for me giving a controlled voice to my frustrations eventually turns me back to worship, a model I think we see in Psalms (though if I really want to follow that model, I need to be sure to clearly worship God in the end with my writing and not just in my mind).

Anyway, thank you for the kind words and we look forward to reinvesting in our church after a hectic holiday season.

Riley said...

True dat. Good call. Well said.

Amanda said...

Okay, I am not an intellectual as you know. However, what was David doing before he slayed Goliath. He was a shepherd. This experience helped him to be able to fight Goliath. Moses was also a shepherd too. I know shepherding is a pretty boring job, my kids tell me how the people who take care of the sheep around here are pretty bored. So, I do think if he gave you a promise He will keep it. I also think that number crunching may be of use some day.