The Most Important Thing You Can Do

CoffeeCup_BW.JPGA few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend.  My friend is candid.  Hmmm, maybe "blunt" is the better word.  Anyway, we were talking about prayer.  I had admired his prayer life.  He is very serious about his ministry as an intercessor and prays for many people each day.  As we continued eating lunch, I said something about wishing that I could do something to "get our church to pray more."  He stopped eating, looked at me, and said, "Why don’t you quit trying to do something to the church and just pray?  Just be the prayerful person you need to be and see what happens."

I’m glad he said that.  He was right.  Far too often, we see ministry as an effort to get the church to do something.  Some of us spend a lifetime trying to fix people.  As parents, some of us smother our children in our well meaning determination to get them to do right.  Some families are wound so tight they fail to communicate that there might be any joy associated with living for Jesus.  Their homes are tense, tight, and have little laughter.  Meanwhile, many church leaders are forever concocting new schemes, methods, programs, etc. as they try to make church happen.

The truth is this: The most powerful thing I can do is to simply be an authentic Christ-follower.  My words are most authentic when they are buttressed by an authentic life.  To really "be" something in the midst of my marriage, my family, my church is incredibly powerful.  The authentic life is more powerful and more transformative than my feeble attempts to do something to people.

A few years ago a friend of mine told me, "The most important thing you can do in our church is to be a godly, healthy, human being who loves God, his family and the church."  I think that is true for a husband/wife, father/mother, friend, etc.  Maybe I need to examine my own life as a husband, dad, and Christian man.

What do you think? 

More later… 

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15 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing You Can Do

  1. This sounds like the spiritual cousin of reading the Bible to preach on it rather than to live it, something I struggle with.  Corporate America has taught us about programming and goals and accomplishments and all the rest, but it’s not always Biblical.  What you’re saying about first being followers of Jesus and then being leaders of a community is a welcome challenge. Thanks for writing about this.

  2. As usual Jim, I think you post is spot on.  I was thinking about this the other day, that I shouldn’t concern myself with just being a "good Christian".  What I should concern myself with is being "the best human being who loves God" as I can be.  Hope that makes sense.

  3. Can I give an example, sort of related? I am a “healthy eater,” the kind that many people could get irritated by. Once, I was lamenting that I wish I could get others to eat more healthily, such is my passion for people’s well-being. My sister said, “the best thing you do is feed people your wonderful food. I know you’ve made me want to eat that way.” On that advice, I’ve taken to inviting others to come and cook and eat with me. It’s a small ministry of “living” what is good, and people have responded with change.

  4. Being authentic about anything in this facade-based culture is an accomplishment. Being an authentic Christ-follower isn’t popular, but it the only life that promises and delivers abundant life.

  5. Greg,I hadn’t thought of what you are saying when I wrote the post ealier but you are right.  Being authentic in most any arena these days is quite a feat. 

  6. L.L.Now that is a wonderful, clear example.  Thank you very much.  (By the way–what a great idea to approach your concern like this) 

  7. The mission of the church is to simply be the church. We can’t be the church if we aren’t even being who we really are. Just a thought…

  8. It is so much easier to debate ideas, propose and execute projects and create “church” work than it is to simply be with God. We don’t feel like we’re getting anything ACCOMPLISHED.

    The first time I visited the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, a ministry devoted to 24/7 prayer and worship, I came with a prayer “to do” list. I had an agenda, and by golly, I was going to ACCOMPLISH something. I burned through my list in about 20 minutes, and then sat there feeling as empty and foolish as a clown in a prom dress while watching a group of musicians worshipped, and others in the room intercede.

    I wanted to run (something else TO DO!), but I couldn’t leave. And as I sat there, it slowly dawned on me that this was the truth about me (I had nothing to offer) and the truth about Him (He wasn’t too impressed with my agenda, but He was really glad I was trying to figure out how to be with Him).

    Thanks for your thoughts. It sounds like you hang around with some pretty profound people.

  9. Michelle,Thank you for a very powerful story!  I suspect many can related to this.  I also like your first sentence.  You said it well.  Sometimes it is difficult just to be with God.  I suspect that the control issue is somewhere in all of this (Our wanting to stay in control).Thanks for commenting and visiting this blog.  I hope you will come back.

  10. Ouch! Got my toes stepped on.

    Reminds me of what they say about relationships… as long as you’re trying to change the other person, you’ll never get anywhere.

    As long as I’m trying to change rather than let God change me… well, you’ve already said it better than I could.

    Grace and peace,

  11. Jim, Excellent and great point! I too have done the same. But living it out is what’s infectious. Not merely telling others to do that, while I can really flop and fail to do so, myself. Thanks.

  12. Recently my husband has become very angry with the Lord and his followers.  There are some really valid reasons why he is upset and subsequently he has stopped attending church.  I’ve been amazed at the amount of people who want to "kick his butt" or make a phone call (when they’ve never called before) or try to pray while he is there in a way that will "call him back" to church and faith.  Honestly?  It is terrible and the most unauthentic and unhelpful process.  Instead of calling to see if they could listen and understand him, they want to give advice and fix.  I think this is another example where we are much better at doing than being. And as a wife, I find myself waffling between them.  I cannot change nor rush his process.  I can only pray.  And this is the most terribly difficulty thing I can do, yet it is the arms of the Comforter that give me hope.