Daily faithfulness over measurable results :: A Convivial Commonplace

One more post about Michael Horton’s Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World if you’ll humor me. I think this is a book any mom deep in the trenches of raising kids would appreciate. Horton grounds us in solid teaching that centers us on the Gospel, in the finished work of Christ, rather than on ambitious, restless desires for “doing great things for God.”

This doesn’t mean we do nothing. Rest is not inactivity. Is is a state of mind and of heart. Just like we teach from rest, we live from a state of rest: God’s in control, not us; we are faithful out of gratitude and trust and not out of fear or striving. Then the outcome is God’s to determine and not ours to control or manipulate. God’s plan is better than ours ever could be.

We do because of who we are, not the other way around

Far too many people hold that it’s not who we are that determines what we do, but what we do that determines who we are.

We do not earn our identity in Christ. We do not earn His grace or His love.

Rather, we live grateful lives of obedience because through Christ it is possible; it is what we want now that our lives and hearts have been changed.

Despite its affirmations of our callings in the world, the call to change the world undervalues ordinary vocations that actually keep God’s gifts circulating.

It is God’s job to change the world, not ours. He might use us, but world-change not our responsibility. Our responsibility is whatever is in front of us, no matter how insignificant it looks or feels. He uses faithfulness, but the results He works are not up to us.

True, there are many ordinary people who, precisely through their ordinary callings, sometimes make an extraordinary impact. Yet it is just as true that ordinary lives have an ordinary impact that is beautiful in its own right.

Even as homemakers and mothers it is easy to fall prey to the hyped talk of how “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” as if our goal is not to work direct cultural change ourselves but instead raise children who will. This is simply shifting the focus forward, but keeping it on the wrong goal.

Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you. – If we shift our focus onto the “all these things” rather than our own simple obedience, we will get neither.

If direct cultural impact is the goal, it’s easy to adopt an elitism that places a premium on high-profile callings. […] There aren’t a lot of agenda available for redeeming janitorial services.

Homeschool mom, would you be happy and satisfied if your child grew to become a faithful janitor, cleaning well day after day?

A carpenter, chef, or homemaker may know what it means to provide excellent service to others every day.

Far too many people hold that it’s not who we are that determines what we do, but what we do that determines who we are.

If we wouldn’t be happy with service jobs for our children, what does that say about our values and our priorities? Are our sights set on faithful obedience or on worldly success?

The measure of excellence is daily love for our neighbors.

What measure of success are we striving for, even unwittingly?

I’m not questioning whether Christ is Lord over all of life. Rather, the question is how he exercises his lordship in the various overlapping activities of our life. Does he require faithfulness or measurable impact in society attributable to direct Christian action?

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5 Responses

  1. Meghan
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    Really excellent, Mystie! I am apart of a church culture that is definitely more on the Radical end of the spectrum, and I think this would be a welcome correction.

  2. Anna
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    Wow, I need to read this book – very encouraging post!

  3. dawn
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    Wow, this must be interesting following Own Your Life. I’ve only read the intro and I will admit to struggling with the idea of “my” legacy rather than service to God’s glory alone. We shall see where it goes.

    Ordinary is definitely now on my TBR list.

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Own Your Life emphasized stewardship, and Ordinary emphasizes that it is God who gives the increase. We should use what we have been given as best we can, but that’s not the same as us aiming for the effect we’d like to have in the world.

      It’s true, though, they are interesting to read side-by-side. They work together, but not in obvious ways.

  4. KarenC
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    The Holy Spirit is at work in you, Mystie!! I needed to hear this message today. It was absolutely perfect timing. Thank you so much for posting. Have a beautiful Easter!