The leader of a small group I was attending asked us to bring an object that would help explain who we are. I didn’t have to think very long or hard. I brought my running shoes. Those of you who know me know that I am an avid runner. There is nothing like it. There is nothing more physically demanding or spiritually refreshing. But I didn’t just bring my running shoes to that meeting to talk about physically running; running shoes embody who I am and what I value.
If you are a student of the Enneagram, I am a strong 8. If you are a student of Strengthsfinder, my top strength is activator. I have been designed to move; physically, emotionally and spiritually. I turn nouns into verbs without even realizing it. My favorite bible verses are the ones that have action attached. Brainstorming sessions are very stressful for me, because ideas equal action. Without other people realizing it, I walk away from meetings burdened to take action on all the ideas discussed. A few days ago, Bryan and I were once again talking about rest. I found myself saying “What if the way that I rest is by doing something?” I can just hear my mindful friends begin to compose an email to me about the importance of rest. I get it. Let’s put that on the back burner and discuss my rest needs at another time.
I will be the first to admit that I am extreme. But I also find that more often than not, I am an exception. Most people I know have incredible ideas, but for whatever reason they stay ideas. I also see this tendency prevalent in our Christian culture. We are quick to discuss our sin, but are slow to repent and make amends. We are quick to judge, but we don’t take the time to truly understand. We talk about loving our neighbor, but we turn our face the other way as they get in their car each day.
I don’t say those things to condemn; I am equally as guilty of those things. I am here to remind myself and others that ideas are only ideas. Without action – ideas are useless. I have found in my life that the ideas that stay in my mind and heart over time (not rash, fleeting ideas) are usually ideas God has given me. God is calling us to take those ideas and put them into action.
Don’t just take it from me, it didn’t take me long to find out what Jesus had to say about taking action. The Bible is full of exhortations.
James 1:23-25 says: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
In James 2:14-17 we are told “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
James 2:18 says “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
James isn’t speaking of salvation. Our salvation is not contingent on our works. But I do believe that James is reminding us that faith propels us towards action. James is calling us to take a good look at our lives. If we aren’t producing fruit, it’s time to take a closer look at our faith. Faith is like a tail wind. It gives us the push we need to keep leaning into our God given passions and callings.
I have spent the last month or so talking about things that I am passionate about. I have talked about my passion for my community and especially my neighborhood. I talked about my passion for public schools. I talked about my new passion about taking care of the earth. Last week I shared about my passion to take care of our bodies. You may not be passionate about any of those things and that’s okay. What are you passionate about? What are the ideas that keep coming back to your mind over and over again? Take note of those things. Write a list. You may be surprised as what comes to mind spills out onto your paper.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I believe one of the reasons people struggle with taking action is that it feels overwhelming. When we get overwhelmed, we tend to get paralyzed. Look at your list, if you feel like you don’t know where to start, then start with one passion and start doing one thing. Do that one thing until it becomes second nature. And then when you no longer have to try to do that thing, do the next thing.
I deeply believe, if we all did that, took our God given ideas, committed to one action -and then did another and another – we would CHANGE our worlds.
So join me as I seek to change my world, one action at a time.