If it was possible to gather the most notable change agents in history, how many people would it be? Enough to fill the Super Dome? A Boeing 787 Dream Liner? Perhaps a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship? Or a double decker charter bus?
It’s not very many people, when you think about it.
Then, you’ve got everyone else. The 99.99%. The thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens that stretch out for hundreds of generations of history. The great crowds and encampments. The townspeople. The families that have filled house churches for centuries. The citizens.
Billions throughout history were born, lived long lives, and faded into obscurity without a single accolade or mention. Nobody even whispers their name today.
They were neither stains nor superstars in the panorama of history. They were the godly fathers, mothers, carpenters and farmers who passed through this world living by faith, without leaving a trace of their existence behind. They listened carefully to the laws of the land, or the letters that circulated through their city, and put them into practice at home without fanfare or finger-waving.
They lived quiet and peaceful lives—godly and dignified in every way. Lives that were good and pleasing in the sight of God.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to think a lot about what kind of difference I’ve made—or will make—during the vapor’s worth of time I’m here. I want to come up with the next Big Idea that changes the course of history. I want to eradicate something, invent something, write something or design something that turns the world upside down for good. I want my name to be carved in granite—somewhere, anywhere—for something radically awesome I did. I want to right a thousand wrongs.
But in a subtle way, Paul’s words remind me that perhaps I’m confusing breadth with depth when it comes to the difference I can make.
They remind me that I’m spending too much time worrying about doing something that reaches the ears of as many people as possible when, in fact, the little ears within the sound of my whispers are enough. They’re words that woo me to put down deep roots, set down the bullhorn, cut the bombast, and live a quiet, peaceful life of love within a much smaller circle than I had envisioned.
Now, some of you modern-day movers and shakers that run hot may tremble (or get depressed) at the thought of such an existence, despite its virtue. And that’s OK. God puts a passion and a strength in some to change a lot of people’s lives, or minds, or hearts, for His glory. To which I say: keep going, we need you. And that path is pleasing, too.
But for the rest of you (or should I say—for the majority of us), we can take heart in knowing that a quiet, peaceful, under-the-radar life right here, right now is good and pleasing in the sight of God.
I don’t have to have 5 million Followers or Fans to make a difference. I can invest deeper in those right around me, and let the breadth take care of itself.
I can be love on two legs to those under my roof, at my job, on my street and in my local church. I can get to know a small group, and go deep with them in sharing hurts, fears, trials and triumphs. The difference I make may never go that broad. But it will be deep.
We can be content to be a “townsperson”—praying earnestly for our leaders and living a peaceful and quiet life. Billions have gone before us down this dignified road.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.