Archive for February, 2011

Effective or Obedient?

Some may accuse me of creating a false dichotomy, of being unnecessarily contrarian.  They may be right, but (obviously) I don’t think so.

I work with one of the greatest Christian organizations on the planet, a group truly concerned (I believe) for every person on the planet having the opportunity to meet The Creator/Savior/Lover of their heart (Jesus).

It’s in that context, however, that I’ve pondered this question:  “Why do we value effectiveness so highly that we talk about it 100x more than we talk about obedience?”

Does the Lord Jesus call me to be effective or obedient?  Effectiveness has to do with apparent, visible results — a decidedly American value.  Obedience has to do (often) with invisible matters, sometimes very small matters that no one sees except God and me.  And, obedience always deals with issues re: “What does God’s Word tell me to do?”

After all the analysis, the probing, the dissecting of this binary choice (Will I be more committed to effectiveness or to obedience?), here’s where I come down.  I want to be found obedient more than I want to be found effective.  And if that means the world, even the Christian world, finds me to be a (relative) failure, so be it.  I will follow Jesus, as obediently as I can figure, even if that leads to decreased effectiveness in the short term, to further obscurity in a Christian culture in love with effectiveness.


PS I recall reading that Elizabeth Elliot was once asked if her husband Jim was actually a success (i.e. effective) in reaching the Auca Indians.  Afterall, they killed him (and his companions) before he had the opportunity to declare the Good News to them.  Her response is brilliant.  She said, “Of course Jim was successful.  He obeyed.”


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