Talking with my wife this morning I mentioned that I found it disturbing the way some of the female pupils I had known at school were slotted into leadership roles and turned into junior workaholics. Just as alarming is the fact that these girls were often seen as role models, despite the fact that their studies declined, they suffered from stress and sometimes lost what inner life they had. A business woman once wrote of the way she had been so entrapped in her busy-busy treadmill, that when she got home she found there was ‘no-one there.’ By ‘home’ she meant her inner being.
The anomaly is that these treadmills can be lauded as Christian Behaviour. Maybe. Then again what we see may be an immature attempt to self-validate and build self-worth through ostentatious effort. As a friend of mine observed, the extent to which we are hollowing out ourselves and vitiating our souls is the degree to which we are working in the flesh and doing what Jesus never asked us to do.
Leadership can readily lionize workaholism in the name of God. Seldom is there an account given of the effect absent mothers and fathers have in the deprived family life and relationships of any depth that never came to be - never flourished because those who could have known better manipulated them into focussing their resources where they were never meant to be.
OUT OF YOUR BEING
Good works are beneficial to ourselves and to the community. Jesus did them. But never because He should, not to prove anything, to work up righteousness or to make an impression. He and His Father were one. He did only what His Father wanted Him to do in the instant and in the season. Everything Jesus did was an expression of His being as the Son of God. Anything we do for ourselves or others needs to be an expression of our sonship - if it is to be life-giving.
Jesus operated from wholeness and the ‘I AM-NESS’ of Himself. When we have made Jesus our life rather than some performance regime our life, we can do the same. When we have made a life in living from what we have been given - union with God, we live in fullness ourselves. We are whole. We are spiritually alive and we touch others with God’s spirit and life.
When we are in God, through simple trust in Jesus we have life and we have our life. We don’t have to prove a thing. You need not demonstrate self-worth to yourself or the public gaze. You live from a position of deep love and worthiness.
An unfortunate contradiction occurs where some of the busiest religionists are the most opposed to revival, genuine Godliness and a life that is Jesus from first to last. Why? Their busyness is about earning favour with God and man. They don’t want this interrupted by what they think is extraneous.
FREE TO BE
When Christ is our life we are free to be. Free to be who we are and free to absorb ourselves in what Jesus means us to be doing. The story of Mary and Martha is a story of a woman wanting to make sandwiches that Jesus did not ask for. We can live a Martha life of busyness and little fruitfulness. Martha’s systematically smother the initiative of those whose efforts would be more fruitful than their own. Fruitfulness, the ability to multiply spirit and life in all we do comes from the Mary position, from union - with - God - intimacy- with- Jesus. Out of the Mary’s of the community flows living water - water not polluted with self-validation - but water that is the spirit and life of Jesus.
“Henri Nouwen reminds us that "time given to inner renewal is never wasted."' In fact it is the fuel for the journey, and more importantly, it is the discipline that will shape the very fabric of our being.”
Charles Ringma. Dare to Journey--with Henri Nouwen (Designed for Influence) (Kindle Locations 55-56). Kindle Edition.