Ambitious for the Quiet Life

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I’ll be 38 next month.

(Boy, that sentence was tougher to type than I expected.)

And as 40 circles me like a great white in the Pacific, I’ve been reflecting on how my outlook on life has changed with age.

One big difference is how I view success in the Christian life.

In my 20s, I thought faithfulness to Christ meant doing something big.

  • Digging wells in Africa
  • Starting a big church
  • or otherwise significantly impacting the world for Jesus.

Anything less would be settling, or so I thought.

Time and (hopefully) maturity have revealed that while such ambitions may be noble, if I’m being honest, my desire to do “big things” was usually more about making an impact for Reagan than it was about making an impact for Christ.

I believe that’s what Gen-Z calls having “main character energy.”

Maybe this is midlife cope, but as a father of three, I’m learning to appreciate quiet faithfulness more and more.

I find myself thinking a lot about 1 Thessalonians 4:11,

make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

I love the juxtaposition of “ambition” with “quiet life” in how the NIV renders it.

It almost feels oxymoronic. How can you be ambitious for a quiet life? But notice that it doesn’t say to be ambitious for a lazy life, though; just a quiet one.

In 1 Timothy, Paul says that one of the reasons we pray for “kings and all who are in high positions” is so that “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” But his definition of a peaceful life isn’t retired, rocking on the front porch with nothing to do. The peaceful and quiet life is “godly and dignified in every way.” Moreover, the peaceful and quiet life is “good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2, 3).

The peaceful and quiet life described in the New Testament is a humble, faithful life—a far cry from the celebrity evangelicalism that dominates today’s world.

The peaceful and quiet life is not second-class Christianity—a sort of consolation prize for those who aren’t called up to the front lines or to have a “platform.” It’s valuable to the Lord. It’s more often found in the scantly-attended prayer meetings and the simple one-another in the church lobby than in book deals and keynote speeches.

The quiet life may not be important as the the world counts importance. But the quiet life is significant enough that the Lord calls us to be ambitious for it and to pray for it.

Too often, when we think “ambition,” we think only of BIG, IMPORTANT, and SHOWY things. But so much of Christian faithfulness is in the quiet, barely visible work we do as we walk by faith through the mundane tasks of life.

So here’s a simple question: As you seek to lead a productive and faithful life, are you doing it for the glory that comes from man? Or are you making your ambition to lead a quiet life contenting yourself with the glory that comes only from God?

Are you making it your ambition to lead a quiet life?

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