"The Pursuit of Happyness" and My New Year's Resolutions
I am a fan of a church-planter/writer named Steve Sjogren. In response to some things he wrote, I have a list of short-term and long-term goals that I review each morning as part of my "quiet time", and ask God to show me what His priorities are -- so that I can modify, scrap, add to, or execute today's tasks out of that vision. This morning discipline (started mid-2006 after I read The Day I Died and Community of Kindness ) made "New Year's Resolutions" irrelevant this weekend. Stewardship and discipleship calls for daily examination of how we are using our time, energy, and money, and for daily change where needed, and for daily commitment to an obedience in our habits and goals. Our cultural tradition of just assessing that once a year in our personal lives clashes sharply with the way effective businesses are run, doesn't it?
Last Friday night I saw The Pursuit of Happyness , and loved it! It showed an ability to compete and an ability to be proactive and an ability to be faithful to one's loved ones and one's goals in circumstances that would flatten most of us. It was a true story that inspired us to go with courage toward the American Dream, and reminded us that God does help those who help themselves (as my Grandpa John told me.) Rather than allowing failure and heartache to rule, the protagonist gambles 6 months of deprivation and hard work on a "pipe dream", and it pays off for him. His hard work and talents land him the success he deserves.
This is a wonderful movie, and it contains biblical lessons about life. I highly recommend it! It is a picture of the best values of our culture and the pursuit of those values. To our culture, nothing is more important than a basic level of success obtained in a way that doesn't hurt anyone else, and we are called to do everything we should to pursue that, and to trust that God will help us. This is the protestant work ethic, is it not?
But back to the subject of daily discipleship and stewardship . . .
What if God has something else in mind for my life than the American Dream? Something better?
What if I had a vision of Jesus where He promised me that I could actually get to know Him well enough that I could be increasingly useful to Him here, and have that intimacy and usefulness continue into eternity in the new world our returning Messiah will bring all of us?
What if the intimacy and joy in that relationship were so compelling that they motivated me to devote everything to that relationship, even at the expense of the "American Dream", or even at the expense of even "successful ministry"?
What if there were others called to the same kind of devotion and stewardship, and God used us together to do real things in the real world -- not in "successful ministry", but in service and kindness and humility -- even when that looks like failure to everyone else?
And what if my focus each morning -- not once a year -- was on renewing that intimacy with that man Jesus and resolving to spend this day pursuing the goals He gives me, in community with others?
What would that look like after 5 years, or 10, or 20, or 30?
I pray that I will see! And, by His grace and power, I will!
How about you?