Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just do something

I've recently been in a "get things done" mode. My collection of open loops had become a tangled knot; with the Sr Pastor of our church on sabbatical, I just have to be more efficient; and in a recent conference on leadership, I was struck by how efficient good pastors need to be.

To reorganize my whole life (hah!) I've gotten the classic "Getting Things Done" (David Allen) and I love the ideas. Even if I can't quite get the book done - I'm on pg 67, it's already changed the way I work and I have high hopes.

I was in this get things done mode, when, browsing around Barnes and Noble's religion section, I was drawn to a book called "Just Do Something." It's a little book by reformed pastor Kevin DeYoung about "how to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc."

A lifetime waffler, I was hooked by the title. I've spent my share of energy asking that God's will be revealed in a way I can read clearly like a burning bush. I believe I might finally be figuring out that if I do chance to see a burning bush I should probably just call the fire department.

I read the book in one day.

Please note; I don't exactly recommend this book. It made me roll my eyes and pull out my theological filter. God's a "he"; people are "men"; and the Christian discipleship is a bit homogeneous and cleancut in a way that isn't true to my form.
He nearly lost me altogether when, in a section on marriage, he assumes that women pursue careers because they haven't gotten married. As a woman who broke off an engagement at the same time she chose to pursue a call to ministry, lines like "young women are going along with their career path because marriage doesn't seem imminent" are just a bit, uh, behind the times.

But the book's premise - that we in the "tinker generation" (thank you Robert Wuthnow) spend too much time looking for THE path to our happiness, tinkering around with decisions, careers, relationships, locations, looking for God's will, strikes a chord. Instead, DeYoung says, we should commit. Make it your life goal to love God and then "just do something." This, he says, is the faithful life.

DeYoung criticises those of us who "overspiritualize" decisions - even life-changing decisions like work and marriage. I do think these are spiritual decisions and I have high regard for the practices of Christian discernment, patience, prayer, and waiting.
But I agree that some of us who search for the spirit to work before we get our feet dirty should remember Jesus isn't looking for clean feet to wash.
From DeYoung:

"Passivity is a plague among Christians. It's not just that we don't do anything; it's that we feel spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God's leading. At times it may be; but it's also quite possible we are just lazy...No doubt, selfish ambition is a danger for Christians, but so is complacency, listless wandering, and passivity that pawns itself off as spirituality. Perhaps our passivity is not so much waiting on God as it is an expression of the fear of man (sic); the love of the praise of man (sic), and disbelief in God's providence.
So, I've been making decisions. Starting small. When I get stuck in the inevitable rut of what to do next, I hear a little voice say "just do something." Make the bed, take the dog for a walk, write a letter, wash the dishes, send that email, buy that book, throw it out. Just do Something. And I've been amazed at the energy that flows from these decisions. And now, I've decided to just publish this with no more tinkering. Check "update blog" off my list.


  1. Keep on rockin, you star!

  2. OK I realize you didn't write this for or about anyone specifically, but I applaud your getting it down on the virtual writing tablet. I am struck by wonder about people who write books. After all - they are people. I prefer authors who admit their humanity in some way, rather than try to convince their readers of their expertise. I can relate.
    I believe each of us needs to see God in an image we can accept - we are created in God's likeness - so I don't hang on the he/she reference - God is God.
    But I am glad you are finding comfort in accomplishment. I know how gratifying it can be. Yet I still pray for God's peace as that is the thing which can help those who can not climb from under the enormity of their circumstance to DO anything. It is His peace which provides breathing space, and perhaps the still small light which urges us to get up, go to the window, or walk the dog.


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