I am a speed demon when it comes to walking…maybe driving too, but whatever. That’s not what this is about. I like to walk fast. I come from a long line of fast walkers. I credit it to my short legs in a world that values a long stride. When Greg and I first started dating I thought it was so sweet that everywhere we went he wanted to hold my hand. Until I realized that Greg, who is more of an ambler on a busy day, was actually tethering me to him with each stride, a human leash of love, if you will. We actually spent the first few years of marriage arguing over and perfecting our walk together. And still, to this day, if I have a sense of urgency or let my mind wander, I will be yards ahead of him before I realize I have left him in the dust. But this week, I am walking like an old lady. I had surgery to repair a hernia last Friday and while walking is the best remedy for a quick recovery, it is a slow and painful shuffle up and down the sidewalk. My neighbors have to think I’m nuts. I look perfectly normal except for the fact that I am walking as if tiny elves are sticking tiny knives in my side with every step…because they are. I imagine a great hernia repair is occurring as they chip away with their tiny pick axes and shovels…I’ve also had a lot of pain medication this weekend if you couldn’t tell.
So I’m a slow walker these days. It’s a challenge to walk slowly and everything in my mind wants to go for a light jog but everything in my body is threatening to lose all sense of well being if that happens so I do the old lady shuffle. I’ve also been spending an unusual amount of time doing nothing on the couch. This results in a lot of social media stalking. (Side note: I feel like it is the duty of the well and strong to provide social media entertainment for those who are less well and strong. So, up your game, social media friends!) In my Facebook lurking this week I came across a friend of a friend who had posted this YouTube video. Its a clip of a man named, Jon Tyson, teaching at Catalyst, an annual conference designed specifically for church leaders. I can count on one hand the amount of men and women who have literally changed the course of my life and Jon Tyson is one of them. I interned for Jon my last year of college as his personal assistant when he was working as the youth and 20s something pastor at a local church in our town. I didn’t even attend the church at the time but had randomly heard him speak at an event and realized that if I could get some time with him on a regular basis, he might just change my life, and he did. During my time as his assistant, I rarely actually saw him because, that was kind of the point, for me to handle all the day to day stuff that kept him from actually changing the world. But one particular day he had a light morning and I ended up packing up his office with him (read: lots and lots and lots of books) so he could switch to a larger office in the church. In the funny way that God works, I had had my heart broken and my confidence shattered the night before by a well intentioned but misguided close friend. I was devastated and reeling and feeling like I was about to end my college career with absolutely no idea who I really was and was pretty much just having a good ol’ classic freak out. For the next few hours, Jon spoke words of Truth and affirmation over me in a kind and casual way that made me me more confident of who I was in Christ and gave me a legitimate understanding of how loved and valued I really was by my Savior. I walked away from that conversation understanding more about my place as a disciple of Christ than I had gleaned in over 12 years of Christian school and countless Sunday school lessons. And it happened while we were packing books for a few hours, in a conversation that was so second nature to Jon I’m sure he doesn’t even remember it now. But it changed my life.
So I stumbled across that link of Jon teaching. Its just a few minutes, as you can see, and its got all sorts of good meat and guts packed into it but as I watched it time and time again, I was struck by one thing over and over: Jon is a truly humble man. Now, I know this because I know him personally. I know that after launching a hugely successful 20s ministry here in Orlando, he lead a team of amazingly talented and humble people to launch a church in New York City. This, in and of itself, was a feat but more miraculously, 10 years later, that church still exists. And not only does it exist, but it is thriving and growing and is adding to its number daily across the 5 buroughs of New York City and beyond. Nothing grows in New York unless it is wildly successful. To be honest, Chicfila is about to embark onto the great island of Manhattan and I fear for its livelihood. New York does not play around. And yet, Trinity Grace Church, goes strong day after day, neighborhood after neighborhood. And, in this clip, Jon is addressing the failure of his church to create disciples. He reads a quote, that in my personal experience, would cause any other church leader to make excuses and back away and mutter their way out of why that wasn’t their church and he even makes a point to say, I don’t read this in a harsh spirit but the spirit in which I received it…a spirit of humility. Because he is a truly humble leader.
And then I think about this:
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
We do gooder Christ followers LOVE the crap out of that verse, don’t we? We scribble it on journal covers in scripty writing. It is the anthem of every service project and every mission team. Heck, I even know a guy who has tattooed it on his body. It is our battle cry and we feel AMPED for Jesus when we rally around it. Go, team Jesus! But here’s the thing, I think we might stop short a little bit at the part we really like and mumble the rest as the cheer dies down. I think we love to act justly. Heck, the WORLD loves to act justly. Check out your Facebook feed of save the refugee campaigns and the orca whales and the unborn babies or the right for everyone to get married. Justice is awesome! Justice makes us feel powerful! Justice changes the world. Loving mercy is a little harder, because justice and mercy can often seem at odds with one another but, whatever. Loving mercy is cool and counter-culture. I can stick some daisies in some rifles and call it a day of mercy loving. But we start to lose some steam over the mercy part so that by the time we are mandated to walk humbly, the hysteria has died down, the fans have left the stadium and the janitors are sweeping up the confetti. No one wants to be the one barely making it down the sidewalk.
But lately I have found myself surrounded by people who truly live a humble life. It took me forever to find them, because they aren’t as loud as the crowd in the stadium. They aren’t shouting their own personal mantras at the top of their lungs. They aren’t being carried out on the shoulders of their fans. They are quietly reading passages from modern day theologians and Ancient Scripture and they are going, “Dang. I think I messed up. I need to start this again.” They are binding the wounds of the broken hearted and then sending them back out to the playing field to score the winning touchdown. They aren’t worried about the numbers of likes and tags they get on social media and they aren’t obsessed with making the world a better place by going viral. They are simply making the world a better place by creating disciples of Christ.
And here is where the poop all hits the fan for me. I am, for all intents and purposes, in the most humility inspiring place I have ever been in my relatively short life: I am a mom. That’s my job right now. My office is the playground. My co-workers are other tired and cranky and insecure stay at home parents like me. The world tells us we are brave and we are inspiring and we are life changers but it does so from its fast paced, kick butt, 49th floor office downtown. There is no going viral in the world of parenthood…at least, not for good things…and there is no crowd cheering you on. And I fight and kick and spit against that every day. I try to get out of my mom box and yell,” hey! Look at me, doing this way cool non-mom thing!” I am surrounded by people who are more talented than me, more passionate than me, more motivated than me and on my bad days, just a whole lot better than me at most things. And I want to be more. I want to be valued as someone who does more than runs the carpool and folds the laundry. And that’s not to say one day I won’t be. But for now, for me, to walk humbly is to run the carpool and fold the laundry because for now I am exactly where God wants to use me. For now, I am mandated to pass on the wisdom I was taught packing up an office to a small four year old boy who needs to know nothing else than how crazy his God is about him. That’s my job. That’s my mission. The acting justly and the loving mercy cross roads and hold hands at the corner of walking humbly. It’s time to get my old lady shuffle on and walk a little farther down the road with my mini world changer.