home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > February >  ORDINARY AND NOBLE

ORDINARY AND NOBLE

Anthony (Tony) Robbins is perhaps the best known motivational speaker in the world. One of his catch-cries is “Why live an ordinary life?” Since I assume that he is asking me, I will humbly respond to Mr. Robbins (albeit very belatedly). I wish to put in a good word for the ordinary and feel reasonably qualified to do so. In answering to “Mr. Motivation” I would also like to address all those others who have subscribed to his ideas such as, “You can do anything … You can be who you want to be … Nothing will be too hard to achieve if you just work hard and put your mind to it.” Because I think none of those statements are true. I do not, however, want to be a dream-crusher or sound like I am an advocate for mediocrity. I am not. But I do want to take this time to pastor people to approach life with a sense of reality about what is possible and why this is so. And I suspect in so doing I may be able to help many people who feel like nobodies or even life-failures.

¶ First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior
First Timothy 2:1-3

 

ADJECTIVES BECAME TITLES

You might remember from Primary School that an adjective is a word that ‘describes a person, place, or thing (‘nouns’).’ At some early point in British history, the King decided to use certain adjectives that could have fairly been used to describe any deserving person and ascribe these words to a new class of people – the aristocracy (which adopted another ordinary adjective “peers”). Words such as noble (a good and virtuous person), sir (a man worthy of honour), lady (a woman worthy of honour), earl or duke (a leader of people), became titles that seemed to suggest that only a select few were now worthy of these adjectives.

¶ For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
First Corinthians 1:26

 

YOU DO NOT NEED A TITLE FROM THE QUEEN

You may never be honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List but that does not mean you cannot live an honourable life! Your parents may not have been of the noble class, but that does not mean that you cannot be a noble person — one who is good and virtuous.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Second Peter 1:5-8

To live a noble life does not mean that you have to do something particularly extraordinary Mr. Robbins. In fact, it seems that history reveals that by far most people who did live a good and virtuous life lived ordinary lives. But when I say ordinary, do think unimportant or even of no consequence. Recently I had a long chat with a lady in our church who told me that after she was married, she spent a deal of time caring for her sickly mother-in-law. She shared how she nursed and cared for her mother-in-law willingly and gladly. She was even there when her mother-in-law died peacefully. After her death, this lady was then, with her husband, charged with the care of our her disabled sister-in-law who had multiple health issues throughout her life. Without complaint, she told me, she tended to her sister-in-law, and cared for her needs. It largely required twenty-four- hour-a-day attention. She battled exhaustion and fatigue for several decades as a result, and even though her sister-in-law’s various medications often effected her demeanour, this lady continued to show patience and care. As I heard her life story, I considered that she had made sacrifice after sacrifice to care for her in-laws. I wondered how many others would have been prepared to enter a marriage involving so many sacrifices. But as she drew her story to a close she stated that all of this was her delight. For her, it was not a sacrifice, it was a privilege. Her life has not been a case-study in national or international political leadership. Her life has not been one decorated by Olympic Gold Medals. Her life has not been honoured by the Nobel Committee. Her name has never featured in Australia Day Honours Awards. She has lived what many might consider to be an ordinary life — a life where you care for those you take responsibility for and show kindness to them even when that kindness is not always returned and must sometimes seem tough. But she has lived a noble life (you may have noticed that I deliberately referred to her as a lady). And truth be told, down through the ages, there have been hundreds of thousands of others who have “given up their lives” to serve others whose names and stories will never be recorded in any history books or be the subject of a major Hollywood movie.

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
First Thessalonians 2:7

 

DISCIPLES OF CHRIST ARE NOT CALLED TO CHANGE THE WORLD

What did Jesus train and commission His disciples to do? We might answer that it involved preaching the gospel and making disciples and if we do, I agree. This is what Jesus modelled to them. After Jesus ascended, His disciples eventually left Jerusalem and were led by the Spirit into various parts of the world and from the pages of Scripture, we never hear of them. What we do know from tradition is, with the obvious exception of Judas Iscariot, they were each faithful in fulfilling what Christ had commissioned them to do. And with the exception of John, they were each martyred in doing so. Their stories are largely lost and untold to the usual annuls of the histories of the great. But their stories were never lost or unknown to the One from whom all true honour derives.

I think of the hundreds of thousands of pastors who have never been household names, or achieved international accolades, or whose stories have filled the pages of biographical books, yet have served Christ and His Church faithfully free from scandal. These ordinary pastors are not “losers”.  These ordinary pastors have fulfilled a noble task nobly. Their lives highlight that God does not call each believer to be someone who changed the world; rather, God calls each believer to make a difference in their world — which includes their friends, their family, their church, and their community. 

¶ The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
First Timothy 3:1

I have been around long enough, and attended more church conferences than I care to count, and I have often seen pastors leave these events feeling inadequate, and as if their ministry was ineffective because some international keynote speaker told them to do something extraordinary. This is sad.

This coming week, I will be conducting the funeral of a young pastor. He never pastored a big church. He never considered himself much of a preacher. He never wrote a book (or read very many either). He was never a featured conference speaker. But he was faithful – and together with his wife they touched the lives of people who once thought their lives had no hope, but found hope and transformation in Christ. 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Second Timothy 4:7-8

 

MR ROBBINS, HERE’S WHY AN ORDINARY LIFE IS WORTH LIVING

Ambition can be good. Striving for continual improvement can be good. Wanting to be the best can also be good. But these all come at a cost—and often a too high of a cost. God does not necessarily call us to live extraordinary lives (in the sense of achieving fame, fortune, or power). God calls most us to be faithful—a faithfulness that often seems small. We can, however, strive to be the best that God has potentialled us to be. And if, along that journey, we are kind to others, humble instead arrogant, caring instead of indifferent, dependable and reliable, we may indeed run the risk of having others (like Mr. Robbins) think of us as ‘ordinary’ — but I think we should see this as a high compliment indeed when it means that we have lived faithfully to do the ‘little things’ that God has called us to. But in reality we will not just be ordinary, we will have attained the elusive honour (even if the Queen never notices) of being ordinary and noble.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ … And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:21, 40

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

5 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Weller

    Thank you so much for your Pastor’s Desk message this week Andrew!
    Often I struggle with the thought that I’m not “doing enough”, not “changing the world” in any way. Your message really struck home – it doesn’t matter that I’m not an overseas missionary or a female Billy Graham. So long as I am living a life that is faithful to God in thought, word and deed and doing this to the very best of my ability, looking to Christ to enable me, this is what the Lord wants for my life and this is what will make an impact on my family, friends and community to lead them to Jesus.
    You are right – living an ordinary life is actually a privilege, so long as we are living it for God!

    Thank you so much, you have lifted a burden from me that I’ve been carrying for quite some time.

    God bless you,
    Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Richard Brunning

      Well said Elizabeth. That’s me too.

      Reply
  2. John Sands

    Encouraging to many

    Reply
  3. Richard Brunning

    Thank you Andrew, that’s mighty good teaching and encouragement. Praise God for the insight he gives you to share with us.

    Reply
  4. Linda Jackson

    This resonated with me too, particularly First Timothy 2:1-3. I often feel I should be doing more with my life. It is encouraging to be reminded that an ‘ordinary’ life is pleasing to God. Thank you for these words Andrew, as ever plenty of wisdom and food for thought.

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

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