Morning

bobby posting:

Most Monday mornings I wake up around 5:40am.  I slap and poke and mumble at my phone until noise stops.   I crawl out of bed, throw on clothes, and drive sleep-intoxicated to a friend’s house.  By about 6:15, a group of 5 or 6 guys is assembled.  By about 6:30, we’re knee deep in discussing the Bible, a book, or our own lives.   By 7:30, we’re saying goodbye to the group and good morning to the rest of our town.  Cars busy bustling to work and school.  Donut shops thriving with bright lights and sugar-highs.

Many mornings I leave blessed by this group.  Encouraged.  Strengthened.  Pushed.  I come home happy to be alive.  Maybe more alive than I had been earlier.  Certainly more alive than I was at 5:40.

But some mornings I come home bothered by this group.  I chose that word carefully.  Not just concerned.  Not just saddened.  Not just discouraged.  But bothered.  I know.  Sounds kinda rough, right?

It seems, at times, that this group represents all of humanity.  All of its boldness and bravery.  Christ in me.  Present.  Living.  Full.

All of its insecurity and isolation.   Christ in me.  Somewhere.  Helping.  Hoping…

Monday, was one of those weeks.

We’re about to begin trekking through Scot McKnight’s One .Life. Nope, I didn’t accidentally put a period in between those two words.  It’s something intentionally done not just in the title, but throughout the whole book.  What’s the intention?  Not sure I’ll find out.

We came to group with Chapter One in the bank.  We read it and were ready to discuss it.  To be honest, this chapter could’ve been the first chapter in any Christian book you’ve ever read.  But I’ve been told this book is more about the discussion it provokes than the writing itself.  And I believe that just might be true, because while the writing wasn’t Shakespeare, the conversation sure felt loaded and weighty Monday morning.

McKnight’s asking us to pursue our dreams.  Our real hopes for our one.and.only.life.  He mentions a conversation he once overheard involving brilliant British theologian John Stott and a young college student.  The young man asked, “How can I discern the Lord’s will for my life?” Stott responded simply.  Succinctly.  Smartly.

“Here’s how to determine God’s will for your life:  Go wherever your gifts will be exploited the most.”

When I read that sentence the night before, sitting in my house with my soon-to-be one-year-old son.  My wife of 5 years.  Best friend for more than a decade.  Lovely home.  Job I’m passionate about that exploits many of my gifts.  Family nearby.  Friends all around.  I found myself deeply contented.  It reminded me of a post I wrote here on this site quite some time ago.  But as I heard that sentence again in new company, my heart wasn’t nearly as lifted.

As we all sat around the room Monday morning, coffee sipping and life pondering, Stott’s words shot like an arrow into several of these men’s hearts.  You could hear brains firing.  Souls stirring.  Searching.  Asking.  “Am I currently doing something where my gifts are exploited the most?”

I used to have this tagline I used in the end of my emails.

Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive.  Because what the world needs is people who’ve come alive.

I believe that to be pretty true.  But as I sat and listened, I realize some of us weren’t fully alive right now.  Hearts barely beating at times.  Grinding.

We spent most of our time discussing vocations.  Jobs.  Unhappiness at the work place (again…not me.  thankfully.).  Yearning to find our “calling”.  Unfortunately, if God were calling, we weren’t picking up the phone.  I think we were dancing all around the point.  Over and over again.

You think a janitor’s passionate about mopping?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  You think Paul couldn’t have lived if he were doing something other than tent making?  I’m aware that these words don’t carry the weight that they could, simply because I’m not only doing a job I love, but my job also happens to be ministry.  It’s killing lots of birds with very few stones.  It’s not fair.

But I hope we don’t let our jobs carry the whole weight of our dreams.  I hope our jobs are well done, by us.  By Christ followers.  But I also hope that we dream in other places as well.

To raise a good family.  To have a solid marriage.  To make and keep lasting friendships.  To disciple those younger than us.  To follow Christ, wherever he may lead.  Even if that leads to frustration today.

Because “joy comes in the morning”.

Wake up.  Open your eyes.  See the morning.

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6 responses to “Morning

  • ViaChicago

    Bobby,

    Great post, my friend. This not only hit me hard, but it also reveals a big problem in men’s christian ministry these days. Our passion, our calling, our life meaning, does NOT have to come through our occupation. Some of us just really are blessed enough where that is a reality. Thanks for this precise insight.

    Adam

  • Taido

    Bobby (and Adam),
    I couldn’t agree more that a man’s identity and worth should not be based entirely or even primarily in their work. I think we are probably all too familiar with people for whom life = work. And I think that is terribly misguided. However, if a person is unable to establish a sense of Kingdom in that place they spend 40+ hours a week, then it sort of dangles out there like some anomaly in life that falls outside the purposes of God. As I’ve been spending time in Philippians, I’m reminded that there are no circumstances or situations that fall outside of the redeeming work of God… even imprisonment. I don’t think we are speaking past each other. I think we are affirming the same thing. Look around you, whatever your present circumstances hold, God can be found.

    I think what I’m trying to push against is that there is any work that can’t be done to the glory of God. A janitor’s work done to the glory of God has as much nobility (possibly more – I think Jesus had words for those who were servants to all) as a missionary’s. The phrase I use repeatedly, is “any work worth doing is worth doing to the glory of God.” And so, I find the line that divides secular from sacred to be more and more fuzzy. Or put another way, the line between our work and the rest of life is fuzzy. I’m thinking that Paul didn’t see his tent-making as something he had to do in order to get on with the real business of the kingdom. Paul certainly strikes me as the kind of guy who didn’t waste any of his one.life on something that was less than God-honoring. Therefore, I’m lead to believe that there is something inherently good and kingdom affirming the act of tent-making itself. Not as a means to the real business of being able to preach and what not. No, people needed tents. And he made them. I like to think (but don’t know) that as he made his tents, he did so thinking… I am bringing delight to God as I make this tent just as he would have me make it. And therefore, I take joy in making it.
    Dang. This is more of a blog post than a comment.

  • zdillon

    And what a blog post it would be! For someone who just broke the 80hr barrier of work in a single week, this collection of posts/comments has really hit home. It is very hard for me to see how my school is for “the glory of God” sometimes. I do believe, however, that God has very intentionally made work a part of this world. And by work I mean the part of that day that we don’t like, but do so because we must. How else do we learn perseverance? How else do we grow strong? I must hold onto these lessons I am learning when I stand inside an environment that does not know God and does not value Godly things. Not all of us will have the job like Bobby that both fulfills and centers around God’s purpose. Some will simply have a job that stretches them past their own strength and yet provides. Some of God’s chosen lived under Pharaoh, some lived under the reign of manna from Heaven, and some lived in the promised land.

  • Taido

    and that’s why you should come skiing. to the glory of God, of course.

    • zdillon

      Taido,
      Now skiing is something that is easy to do to the glory of God. Heck, simply being in the rockies is to the glory of God.

      You have my promise that I will come skiing IF I can get the time off and the $$$.

      Zach

  • ViaChicago

    Taido,

    Thanks for your wisdom. Your comment hits bullseye.

    Adam

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