DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Just Do Your Job

Written by: on April 17, 2015

“Let us assume the best of intentions. Christians today— of whatever stripe— sincerely want to engage the world for good. As we have seen, though, Christians have embraced strategies that are, by design, incapable of bringing about the ends to which they aspire.”1

This statement gives voice to a nagging concern I have had a hard time getting words around for some time.  It is the reality that the best of intentions are just not enough to actually make any substantive change happen.  If intentions were enough, then we would be living in a global utopia right now!  The vast majority of people (be they Christians or other strands of “people of faith”) genuinely want the world to be better, happier, friendlier, kinder, more considerate, more caring… but with all of there good wishes and intentions, look around.  Does it seem that we’re any closer today to living in a happy, blissful world absent of war and brutality?   Probably not.

It seems to me that the key here is that we have been leaning on our own strategies and plans.  Since we have the desires, it stands to reason that we should also have the cure, right?  Well maybe not.  I seem to remember reading somewhere in the scripture about God thinking thoughts that are “higher” (think… DIFFERENT in substance) than ours and that his ways are far different.  Could it be as simple as that?  We have misplaced our confidence and assumed we could strategize our way to our desired outcomes?  That, since we dreamed up this utopian vision, we should be the ones to scheme up a way to see it come to fruition?  I’m reminded of another passage that talks about how we should not lean on our own understanding, but how do we do that?  How do we walk in that kind of confidence when we are pressed on every side with the reality of people suffering and “we have the answer” after all?

I think maybe we have conflated two ideas…  The idea of changing the world and the idea of inviting people into a relationship with Jesus.  Maybe these are two very different ideas and we have allowed our response to our calling to do the one (Bring people to Jesus) to be confused with the other which really isn’t our job at all?  So maybe if I just do my job, and let God do his, I can have confidence that our world will be transformed when and how HE wants it to be.  Interesting….

 


1. James Davison Hunter To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (London: Oxford University Press. 2010) 99.

About the Author

mm

Jon Spellman

Jon is a husband, father, coach, author, missional-thinker, and most of all, a follower of Jesus.

13 responses to “Just Do Your Job”

  1. mm Brian Yost says:

    “This statement gives voice to a nagging concern I have had a hard time getting words around for some time.  It is the reality that the best of intentions are just not enough to actually make any substantive change happen.”
    Jon, it seems that most of us have had this nagging feeling, but somehow it did not seem right to question that ideas we have about changing the world. It seems our concern is more about how we can change the world than about how God can change us.
    I love your closing thought, “So maybe if I just do my job, and let God do his, I can have confidence that our world will be transformed when and how HE wants it to be.”

    • mm Jon Spellman says:

      Brian, I wonder if it’s easier to look to other people (“culture”) and see their problems and seek to find solutions (Change the world!) than it is to look deeply into ourselves and confront the things we find there? Maybe this is kind of what Jesus was addressing with the whole “speck and plank” teaching?
      J

  2. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Jon, Your post reminds me of a simple mantra I sadly need in my life: “God is God and I am not.” Seriously, that would fix so much that gets messed up in my life through my best ideas and noblest efforts. It is true. It is simple. And it certainly changes my life for the better. I just find it funny how that works:)!

  3. mm Mary Pandiani says:

    Seems you’re addressing discernment – how do I go about living the life God has called me into, knowing that I’ll get in the way at times and other times be right in alignment with what God wants?
    It requires such a humble stance…not easy for any of us, really, when you think about our desire to be in ministry in the first place. We want to make a difference. We want to see big change. We want things to be better. And then I’m pulled back to a thought in reading your post – perhaps our responsibility requires invitation, not postulation.

    • mm Jon Spellman says:

      I find myself thinking about another thought-strand woven through Hunter, that in order to see large scale cultural change happen, large scale leaders and politicians and systems have to be transformed… And I wonder if I have a sense of jealousy towards those that are called to be THAT kind of change agent? Am I content to live my whole life if my calling is just to make a few disciples? What if the invitation Jesus extends to me has NOTHING to do with kings and governors but instead, peasants regular folk?

      Mary, I think it is about invitation… It’s about hearing and embracing whatever invitation God extends to me and thriving in that!

      j

  4. mm Nick Martineau says:

    Great post…Thanks Jon.

    Your concluding thought, “So maybe if I just do my job, and let God do his, I can have confidence that our world will be transformed when and how HE wants it to be. Interesting….”

    So many in ministry see their work as a “higher calling” and that thought makes us feel more important then we really are. I love the mantra Phil shared “God is God and I am not.” Good reminder for us…especially those in ministry.

  5. mm Dave Young says:

    Jon, I heartedly agree with you. Great point about God’s thoughts are fundamentally higher than ours. It’s subtle, we confuse what we’re called to do “make disciples” with what only He can do “change the world”. I’m even more convinced this week that A.B. Simpson (founder of the C&MA) had the right idea. He was known to talk about ‘bringing back the king’. Quoting Matt 24:14 that our job is bring the gospel to all the nations and then the end will come. So his ‘change the world approach’ wasn’t the conversion of people changes the world but rather Jesus returns and we have a the completion of His kingdom – a whole new world.

    Hunter, may have weak view of the effectiveness of evangelism in bringing culture change. I’d like to argue it’s evangelism that leads to Jesus return and that does result in radical world change.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Jon,
      You asked, “How do we walk in that kind of confidence when we are pressed on every side with the reality of people suffering and “we have the answer” after all?” This represents our American mindset. We tend to think that we either know how to solve the world’s problems or that we can discover the answers. Rarely does one take on a task that they don’t believe they can accomplish. Maybe we should focus on just serving and leave the world changing to the Lord. I know first hand how difficult this can be, especially when one has a passion and desire to make a difference. Yet, when I think about others who have made great differences in the world, they mostly just did the right thing when opportunity presented itself.

      • mm Jon Spellman says:

        Dawnel, great observation, connecting this to our prevailing American thought. “We are the ones that get it done!” after all… It is counter-intuitive to us to really just rest in the confidence that Jesus holds the keys!

    • mm Jon Spellman says:

      Dave, it can certainly be said that the ultimate return of Jesus will be THE most powerful transformation of culture that the world will ever see! The difficulty is in seeing the small roles that we each play as being substantial in the overall fulfillment of that day. Hmmm… All of a sudden this whole conversation turned apocalyptic!

      Good job Dave!

  6. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Jon, I think you on to something here. I believe we are sent to proclaim the Gospel and not so much change the world. I believe we are going to change some people but not all. And its important to note that. I think we have watched t.v. so much that we think its a movie serving Christ. We have to reach those we are odained to and I think thats all God wants from us.

Leave a Reply to Dawnel Volzke Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *