Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Pruned Life

This is where I'm at right now...

I keep notebooks. Many of the pages are filled with random jottings...stream-of-consciousness...that sort of stuff. But occasionally, as I re-read them, I stumble upon something out of the ordinary, and possibly even special. (Lots of times it happens to be quotes from other people's work, but there you go.)

Here's an entry from September '04. At the time, I was struck by a quote from a study we were doing at church about elders, and their need to live simple, "pruned" lives. The fact is that this idea applies to all believers, not just elders, and much could be written about why this is difficult for those living in an affluent society.

For me, though, I think the quote returns to my thoughts so often because although I know it, I haven't yet learned it.

In his excellent book Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch makes this statement: "The real problem, then, lies not in men's limited time and energy but in false ideas about work, Christian living, life's priorities, and -especially- Christian ministry."

He continues further along with this quote from R. Paul Stephens: "And for tentmakers to survive three full-time jobs (work, family, ministry), they must adopt a sacrificial lifestyle. Tentmakers must live a pruned life and literally find leisure and rest in the rhythm of serving Christ (Matt 11:28). They must be willing to forego a measure of career acheivement and private leisure for the privilege of gaining the prize (Phil 3:14). Many would like to be tentmakers if they could be wealthy and live a leisurely and cultured lifestyle. But the truth is that significant ministry in the church and the community can only come by sacrifice."

Quoted from pages 28-29 of Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch


Charles Sebold said...

Wow, that's just what I needed to hear.

And by that I mean, "I stand convicted." I have, in fact, been waiting around for God to remove the stresses of my life so I could serve Him better, instead of finding my rest in His work.

Thanks for posting that.

Ray said...

I went through Strauch's book with my elder, and was struck by this as well. I am bi-vocational, and what I have found to work is exactly what Strauch says -- foregoing some of my personal goals in the secular workplace, and not having as much leisure time as I would like at all times... Yet, I am so richly rewarded serving Christ that everything else pales in comparison.

However, lest I sound like I have figured it out, I struggle with the balance daily -- very timely word gummby!

Even So... said...

literally find leisure and rest in the rhythm of serving Christ


Love studying and speaking and serving and you will find that these things are what you always want to do, with any of your time...my hobby, recreation time is blogging, and I post 6 days a a week out of pastoral overflow, and I love it, love it, love it...it ministers, I am ministered to, and I take things with me to minister to others..no one will evr convince me that blogging is a time waster, not if it is what you are doing as your ministry-in-recreation-time time...brothrs, use it as a tol to sharpen you, and bring it out to the world where you live as well...I still get out there and do all that we are called to do, and now I do it even better because of this, praise His name...