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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HEARING THE WILL OF GOD

Christianity is a dynamic (always changing) journey with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit within us who works within us to desire to do and pursue the will of God (Phil. 2:13). It is the illumination of the Spirit that takes God’s Word as we read, study, and meditate on it, and makes it seem fresh and alive to us. And it is the Word of God, which He, the Holy Spirit, inspired men to write so that we could clearly discern the will of God for our lives. You don’t need a word from God to know what God’s will for your life is. You don’t need to attend a “Learn To Hear The Voice of God” seminar, or to read a book on the topic. Instead, you just need to dialogue with God in prayer through pouring out your heart to Him with your requests, petitions, confessions, and thanksgiving; and then, prayerfully read His Word as the light of the Holy Spirit illuminates it to your soul.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Second Corinthians 4:6 

Perhaps if more believers were led by the Spirit like this, less Christian marriages would end, less churches would be split, and less Christians would walk away from Christ and His Church after becoming frustrated by the false belief that since these presumptuous Christians have apparently mis-heard God so wildly, the reason must be that God doesn’t actually exist. This is one of the most pressing issues that needs to be confronted today — especially among those of us who identify as Spirit-filled Pentecostals.

LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > June > LOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENTLOOKING BEYOND THE MOMENT For anyone who is a fan of aviation, the movie Sully (2016) is one you will have probably enjoyed watching. The storyline is biographical drama based on the 2009...

THE BENEFITS OF A DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN R

The Greatest Exponent of what vitamin R can achieve within a person was the One who introduced vitamin R in small doses to His twelve followers. There initial dose came from simply complying with the request to, “Follow Me.” This they did for some three years or so. After watching Him intently, they then got a larger dose when they were told to, “Go…and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” And as every example of those who have ever received a near maximum dose of vitamin R bears witness, just before they received their ultimate dose vitamin R they felt two universally common sensations: inadequacy and inability. Yet, as everyone who has received such high doses of vitamin R from the One who gives the ultimate enabling strength found in vitamin R, somehow they were supernaturally enabled to do the very thing they felt both inadequate and unable to do!

A PICTURE IS PAINTED BY A THOUSAND WORDS

The most difficult challenge you’ll ever have to deal with throughout your life is others. They’ll make you angry, get you frustrated, and hurt you. At the root of these challenges will be miscommunication with others and communication breakdowns. Your ability to understand how language and communication really works could save you from much of this heartache. But the most unrealised — and by far the potentially greatest source of — heartache may eternally shock untold numbers of poor souls when they realise too late that they did not respond to God’s communications.

THE BUSY FOOLS ARGUMENT WITH THE BUSY WISE

What makes our busyness wise busyness? It’s when our busyness is doing what Christ wants for the reasons that He wants it done. It’s when we are busy without neglecting the priorities of spiritual disciplines and our obligations to those we are responsible to and for. This is why, when Christ calls someone to take on a greater responsibility in His Kingdom it is almost certain that they are already busy. I am not at all suggesting that a Christ-follower needs to be frenetic in their busyness for Christ, or that they should never sabbath (two points I have tried to make clear in this Pastor’s Desk by contrasting the busy wise with the busy foolish). But I am hoping that those who have been following and serving Christ for some seasons will recognise the doors of opportunity that Christ will enable them to walk through wisely. And as they do, and we do together, may we begin to see glimpse of the Great Commission being fulfilled in our valley-city.

IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.

EXCUSE ME

The essence of an excuse is the word, no. If we get invited to a party that we don’t to go to and we make a polite excuse to decline the offer, in essence we are saying “No, I will not come to your party.” This is the gist of the parable that Christ told in Luke 14 about His Father who sent His Son as His Servant to personally invite those who had already received an invitation to come to a great banquet. (It’s interesting how Jesus describes His Father’s heaven as a great banquet.) By saying “No” to the great banquet invitation those who were declining this invitation were saying that they had a better offer. What offer could be better than dining with the Source of Life, Joy, Peace, and Power, as His special guest in His luxurious mansion? What happens next in this parable also says a lot about how God feels when people make excuses to decline His offer to dine.

BELONGING

I’m not sure about you, but one of my great wrestles in becoming more Christlike is that sinful tendency to see my time, my resources, my life as belonging to me. I like to control it. I like to own it. I like to decide what happens and when.

God, in His great grace and wisdom, seems to work in our lives reminding us how little we truly control and that it all truly does belong to Him. So often these reminders come in the way of hardship and loss with the call to surrender ownership and control.

If our Heavenly Father was a despotic God, a cruel, tyrannical God who acted arbitrarily and selfishly for His own ends, knowing we belonged to Him would cause us to tremble and live in fear and apprehension.

But praise Him that this is not our God!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies your with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

ROOFS AND DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING

ROOFS AND  DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING
John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” Having a plan is generally a strategy that will help us to get things done, or respond correctly when things go wrong. A plan may help us to find a solution and a way through an adverse situation that we are experiencing. A plan also helps us to know what resources we might need for dealing with situations that we can foresee.

When it comes to thinking about the importance of planning, a statement that is worth considering is one that I like to get my Maritime Passage Planning students to contemplate:

‘The best thing about failing to plan, is that disaster comes as a complete surprise that is not preceded by hours or days of stress and worry associated with the planning process.’

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There are those who are busy but are highly productive. Often these people have learned that busy needs to be managed so that their time is focused on maintaining their important relationships, taking regular sabbaths, prioritising the important over the urgent, and cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it could be.