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Leading, Pulling, or Just Following

The Apostle Paul makes a very bold recommendation. He says, “lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your hands.” At first glance, there seems to be quite a conflict for all of us. Are we, the community of the faithful, really called to have a “quiet life?”

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” ~1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

To the active Christian, it is important to focus on two other aspects of Paul’s recommendations. (a) working with our hands, and (b) winning the respect of outsiders. So what is the real point the Apostle Paul is making?

First, to work with one’s hands is to labor and participate in the everyday life of our community. It means we interact with the lives of those around us. Paul meant that we would do the common work, the duties that need doing, and not think that labor was beneath us. Paul said nothing about meetings, committees, and even long planning sessions. He did not condemn the latter but placed his focus on the basics of good old fashion hard work.

Visibility is also a necessary component of faith. When people see you doing hard work in support of your beliefs, their hearts and minds will understand who Christ was and why He came. The Apostle Paul points out that outsiders are won over only when there is mutual respect gained through their observations of your behavior. Effective leadership is not necessarily measured through the effectiveness of fluent apologetics or pure growth in numbers. To be a leader is to make a difference − we are being called to guide the hearts and beliefs of our community. This means that everyone needs to see the “good works” in action if they are to mean anything.

TIPS-7Being active in your community is all about “doing something.” Too many times, the task of helping others is left to others.

Check List√

When was the last time you pulled up your sleeves and helped wash dishes at a community center or church activity?

Do the children in your church know who you are? Have they met you or watched you work on a project with them?

When was the last time you donated food or clothing to your community sharing center?

If you are a leader, do you know who is following you?

Does your labor gain the respect of outsiders, those who see your “Good Works?”

How many strangers do you meet each week?

What Does it Take?

The Apostle Paul was, in a sense, talking about stewardship. He was showing us that the unselfish sharing of one’s time, talents, treasures, and the willingness to verbalize one’s faith (testimony) would make a difference if others saw us doing “Good Works” because we love our God.

If you are leading, look back, who is following you? If no one this there, then maybe it is time to start pulling and getting actively engaged in making a difference. And if all of this doesn’t yet make sense, then maybe it is time to start following those who you see around you that are living the “Good News.”

Generosity, empathy, forgiveness, and discernment, for example, are not found in a newborn. We learn these things from our families, our communities, and especially from our churches. Would our world be a better place if there was more generosity, empathy, forgiveness, and discernment? Only you can answer that question. However, one only needs to look at the headlines of a newspaper or an evening news show to understand that our society is missing something. The Apostle Paul says to give it a try. There is nothing to lose and an eternity of hope and peace to gain.

Your tip: Start making a difference today and if necessary, even use words.