I recently came across a quote and a follow up question that have been on my mind. The quote is by a Desert Father called Anthony Bloom who was invited to preach at a mass where a visiting bishop would be in attendance. Bloom refused to preach and said:
“If my silence doesn’t speak to him, my words will be useless”
The question is: how would I communicate with people if I were reduced to silence. What virtues would I want displayed in my life?
I’ve been doing some work with God along this theme, talking to Him about why I take notes, why I keep notebooks and why I am so quick to teach everything I learn. It’s an ongoing journey, but in the midst of it I’ve come across this chapter in a book by Gordon MacDonald: Building Below the Waterline. (Would highly recommend any book by this author and I have read two of his books twice!)
““A humble man, is never hurried, hasty, or perturbed, but at all times remains calm. Nothing can ever surprise, disturb, or dismay him, for he suffers neither fear nor change in tribulations, neither surprise nor elation in enjoyment. All his joy and gladness are in what is pleasing to the Lord.” – Isaac of Syria
“The way of the Christian leader, is not the way of upward mobility in which the world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross. . . . It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest.” – Henri Nouwen
A question I heard recently about this trait, which I have begun asking myself: “Is my heart expanding or contracting towards others?” (-Especially those who think/believe/act differently to me)
“Compassion [is] the ability to identify at heart level with the vulnerabilities, fears, and sorrows of others. And to identify in such a way that one is not paralyzed but energized with great love” – Gordon MacDonald
3) Steadfastness (not stubbornness)
“Steadfastness means reliability of character, fulfillment of promises, faithfulness to key relationships, and (most important) living in obedience to Jesus.” – Gordon Macdonald
Am I steadfast in my friendships, in my commitment to Church, work and my ethic there, in my walk with God etc?
“Faith [is] an ability to trust in and draw upon the power of God beyond my rationality, my instinctive pessimism, my willingness to settle for less than best.” – G. Macdonald
I don’t just want Faith in God for my job, life purpose, vision or Church. But also for the individuals in my life, my friends and family. Do I have faith that God has good plans for them, that they are God’s handiwork created in advance for good works? Do I have faith that every member of my Church is an essential member and without which I cannot grow or come into maturity (1 Cor 12)?
5) Self Control
This week on the AskPastorJohn podcast, they replayed a segment of a sermon John Piper preached regarding self control and porn. I leave it here, as the means of self-control described can easily be applied to any battle with sin.
Desiring God: You can say no [to sin]