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Living in Tension

2008 May 20
by Julie Clawson

A few conversations this past weekend at our church retreat got me thinking about the tension between pride and servanthood. Of course, such things generally seem to be more of opposites than things to be held in tension. But in discussing the struggles we face in our spiritual journeys I saw that a balanced tension between the two can be needed.

What I’m thinking about here is the tension between the desire to accomplish something great with one’s life and the call to serve God wherever one finds oneself. I know that following God means being willing to serve where one is at. One cannot wait for the ideal circumstances to arise in order to serve and a certain level of being content where God has placed you is needed in order to serve well. But I also see the danger of settling for whatever is easy and never stepping out in faith to serve. That stepping out, while focused on God, requires a basic level of self-pride. A sense that one is “important” enough to do great things for the Kingdom. While it might not be self-centered pride, it is a measure of confidence that pushes one beyond where one is at onto greater things.

I’ve always understood the line from Lord of the Rings that Eowyn answers to Aragon’s question of ‘What do you fear my lady?’ She replies, ‘A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond beyond recall or desire.’ To me that isn’t about my need to accomplish great things in my life, but the awareness that I shouldn’t be afraid to actually try. I think I fear complacency masquerading as contentment or “accepting my place in life” more than I fear excessive pride. But sometimes finding the right balance is hard.

I can get too caught up in desiring to “do great things” that I miss out on the opportunities I have right before me. It is this tension of accepting and grasping hold of such opportunities while not ignoring the whispers of the call pushing me out in faith that is the ongoing struggle. It isn’t a bad struggle necessarily, but one that keeps me aware who I am and what I am being called towards.

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  1. May 21, 2008

    Yeah, I believe God is more desirous that we be good than great.

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