Friday, May 20, 2005

Why Go 'Above and Beyond'? Dealing with My 'Dark Side'

When people ask me why I do things that are in the "above and beyond the call of duty" category, like writing this blog, I tell them things like...

"I enjoy writing."

"I want to present what I hope is one little voice of reason and moderation in the world."

"I hope to show people a different face to Christian faith than they might see otherwise."

All of those statements are true.

But, when I'm honest with myself, there are undoubtedly other reasons.

Part of the reason is hubris. Writing can be and often is, an act of monumental presumption in which we bid, for however long it takes, to hold people captive while they read what we write.

Another is the desire to be recognized as competent, intelligent, and wise.

A small part of me also hopes that somebody somewhere will read what I write and say, "Hey, that guy's got good stuff to say. Let's offer him a book deal."

Frankly, I pray about my motives not just for writing, but also for my public ministry as a pastor and about my involvement in local organizations and activities every day. Am I doing these things to serve God and my neighbor or to serve my ego? I beg God to help me to live and act from purer motives.

The fact is, of course, that this side of heaven, my motives--good and bad, loving and selfish--are inextricably woven together in my fallen but redeemed psyche. Even the tender acts of love I render for my children, seemingly selfless, are in part motivated by the hubris that goes with calling them my children, my progeny, the product of my nature and nurture. (Of course, I know that this is all rot. Children are God's gifts to us, as are spouses, home, and productive work, to name just a few other examples. But ego pays little heed to fact when it's on a roll.)

As a follower of Jesus Christ who strives to live in daily repentance and renewal, I know that on this planet and in this life I am, at best, only in the process of becoming like Christ. Until then, I see through a glass darkly. Sometimes very darkly.

But in this blog entry of yesterday, Gordon Atkinson confesses another motive for his busy-ness, one that may be true for me as well. For all my sincere proclamations of being saved from sin, death, and futility not by what I do, but by my faith in what God has done for me in Jesus Christ, I still can fall into the trap of trying to prove myself. Thanks, Gordon, for giving me something else to repent. (That's only partially sarcastic and mostly sincere.)


Alex said...

I often wonder where we'd all be if God didn't let us know that he's looking after us in spite of what we may think some times!!! Sometimes we do things for reasons that never cross our mind. Sometimes God has us in a certain place at a certain time to maybe say or do something that promotes his work on earth without clueing us in as to why. Your wondering "why" is just another extension of "faith" as in "Keep the faith brother!!!" I'm sure if God thinks you are not doing things properly he'll give you a gentle whack on the side of the head to get your attention!!

Mark Daniels said...

Thanks for your kind comments...kind in the sense of being affirming and pointing to the unseen and loving hand of God. I appreciate that.

Thanks too, for continuing to visit 'Better Living.'

God bless!


Anonymous said...


You're welcome, my brother. Anytime I can help you feel worse, just let me know.

;-) peace