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1 Thess 4.11: Aspire to lead a quiet life.

“It's the seemingly unimportant people who determine the course of history. The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers do more good than hurricanes but they don't get a lot of publicity. The world would soon die but for the loyalty, creativity and commitment of those whose names are unhonoured and unsung.”

by James Sizoo (whom no one seems able to identify)

1 Thess 4.11: Aspire to lead a quiet life.

“It's the seemingly unimportant people who determine the course of history. The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers do more good than hurricanes but they don't get a lot of publicity. The world would soon die but for the loyalty, creativity and commitment of those whose names are unhonoured and unsung.”

by James Sizoo (whom no one seems able to identify)

As the editor of a magazine for Christ-followers I’m constantly pulled by the desire to attract attention by running a big-name profile on the cover. Yet I have to resist the temptation, because I serve one who is more impressed by a cold cup of water given in His name than glitzy externals.

And as I peruse the resources available for women’s ministry, whether seminars or studies, I see that we are often more compelled by celebrity than by depth or skill at handling God’s Word. How we need reminding that we are to aspire to the quiet life, not to fame; that glamour is not goodness; honor is not humility, ability to speak is not ability to communicate what matters. The woman of the hour is not apt to be the woman of the ages.

The death of a friend’s father earlier this year provided a fitting reminder of this for me.

The pastor who spoke at Dick Beard’s funeral likened him to George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. As you recall from the reruns you’ve watched while munching on yuletide sugar cookies, George Bailey longed to do more with his life than run the financial institution he inherited from his daddy. Yet duty kept calling. And because George kept doing what was right, he sacrificed his dream of “doing and seeing” on the altar of “selflessness and responsibility.”

Mr. Beard was a lot like that. Because of his good choices, he never achieved even so much as a Warholian fifteen minutes. He was an eyewitness to the Kennedy assassination, so he could have made a name for himself over that alone. Yet the first I heard about that was from his wife, Betty, during the visitation before the funeral.

Dick Beard chose to be unhistoric. Yes, he was a lot like George Bailey. The pastor said so. But the preacher wasn’t the only one who did. A teen who didn’t know he’d used that analogy made the same comparison a couple of nights ago when talking to her dad about Mr. Beard.

He graduated valedictorian of his class and scored a full veterinary-school scholarship. Need I say he was a smart guy? Yet soon after graduation, his father died of tuberculosis. He took several odd jobs at the ripe old age of 18 to provide for his mother and three younger siblings. He did this until his country called him to service at twenty-six. After four years, he returned home and found mundane employment with the U.S. Postal Service. Why? He had siblings who needed him.

He waited until he was 29 to marry at a time when everybody tied the knot in their early 20s, because he wanted to make sure his siblings were “launched well.”

When his sister was nominated to homecoming court, he heard she was going to turn down the honor because she couldn’t afford a dress. Dick found her one. To this day his family doesn’t know how he came up with the money.

Recently an online writing group to which I belong asked, “What is your favorite ending to a book?” One of the contributors chose as her selection the ending to George Eliot’s Middlemarch. It’s not flashy as endings go. A lot of critics find it disappointing. But I think it’s profound. The book ends with this description of the main character, Dorothea, but it could have just as easily been written about Dick:

Dorothea’s full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Two hundred years from now, if the Lord tarries, nobody will be visiting Dick Beard’s tomb. Nobody will be visiting mine. Probably nobody will be visiting yours.

So let’s be sure to cast off any diva mentality we might have and get about the business of serving faithfully in obscurity. In this life the effect of faithfulness lived out in relative anonymity is the growing good of the world.

Related Topics: Spiritual Life, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Women's Articles