Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Virtue of Ordinary Faithfulness

A few years back, Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck co-authored Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. I was reminded of what a helpful book that is this morning when I saw a number of friends on Facebook linking to this post at by Kevin (which is an adaptation of the book's epilogue). In it he calls us to the following:
What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.
It's well worth reading the whole post -- or the whole book for that matter! I know I need to remind myself often that God doesn't necessarily call me to turn the world upside down, but he does call me to be faithful. This is a good word for us all, but especially essential for pastors to remember.

Another must-read for pastors that helps remind us of this fact is D.A. Carson's Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson. In the book, Carson weaves together his father's journal entries with biographical information to give a sketch of a man he profoundly respects and admires, even though the depth of his own direct impact and the level of his own fame have far outreached those of his father, who spent the vast majority of his life pastoring rather small churches. Carson notes in the book's preface:
(F)ew assessments of Dad's journals are likely to prove more penetrating than that of Michael Thate, my administrative assistant. Michael cheerfully transcribed the English parts of the journals. When he sent me the last digital files, he accompanied them with an e-mail that said in part, "I used to aspire to be the next Henry Martyn [heroic British Bible translator and missionary to the Muslim peoples of India and Persia]. However, after reading your dad's diaries, the Lord has given my heart a far loftier goal: simply to be faithful. I know we men are but dust, but what dust the man I read about in these diaries was!" And after proofing the manuscript he sent me a note telling me he was reminded of Tolkien's lines about Strider:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
All true. And yet Tom was a most ordinary pastor.
Some of us are indeed called to wield massive influence. The vast majority of us are called to more ordinary things. Instead of seeking to revolutionize the world, let us simply seek the far loftier goal of being faithful. If God desires to use our faithfulness in ways that are beyond our wildest imagination, then so be it. May he receive all the glory. And if he should choose to use us only in the smallest of ways, then so be it. May he be glorified just as much.

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