Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Driven or Called?

This is the third part of my reflections on Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World.

"rrrrring!.........rrrrrring!" I'm in the middle of doing the 3rd thing on a list as long as my arm and the phone is ringing. That interruption is not what being a called person is about. MacDonald, in the fifth chapter of his book describes the called person like this:

Called people...possess strength from within, a quality of perseverance and power that are impervious to the blows from without. p.53

When comparing a Driven person to a Called person, the single most important difference is where the drive comes from, where the energy comes from, where the force of engagement comes from. Is it coming from with-out? From somewhere out there? Someone who is pushing you toward some goal? That's being driven. Or is it coming from within? Is there a strength of character, an ability to withstand the pressures and drives from outside and continue to be about the purpose to which one was, wait for it, called?

Using John the Baptizer as his model, MacDonald goes on to describe the attributes of a called person:

1)Called People Understand Stewardship
"The task of stewardship is simply to properly manage something on behalf of the owner until the owner comes to take it back."
This is a very hard concept for us to understand, especially in our buy-now, pay-later culture. We want to own and often grow bored with it before we've even paid for it. I'm certainly guilty of that.

2)Called People Know Exactly Who They Are
"Today in our media-fashioned world many good and talented leaders face the constant temptation to begin believing the text of their own publicity releases."
This is definitely something I am concerned about, when I think of my boys, growing up, seeing "Pastor Daddy" and then seeing "Daddy" at home. I hope they're both the same daddy.

3)Called People Possess an Unwavering Sense of Purpose
This for me is key in differentiating it from being Driven. You always think of purpose and passion as signs of drivenness, but MacDonald wants to remind us that if you're truly called, you understand in a deep way that the call you've received is the most important thing in the world. You run after it with passion.

4)Called People Practice Unswerving Commitment
Here's a great story that MacDonald shares that really explains this:
"Somewhere in my library is a book in which the story is told of an English headmaster who was appointed when he was forty-five years of age. His first act was to write himself a letter to be opened on his sixty-fifth birthday. In it he wrote (and I paraphrase), 'Today you are sixty-five, and it is time to give the task of being headmaster over to a younger person. You will tell yourself that there is no one who can replace you; that the school cannot do without you. But don't believe this self-aggrandizing propaganda.'
Sure enough, when he turned sixty-five and opened the letter, he found that he entertained those exact feelings about his indispensability. But he took his own advice and released the leadership to another. Which is exactly what John [the Baptizer] did [Jesus]."

The biggest thing that I come away from this chapter with is the idea of forethought. With the right preparation, being called is possible. If you have a long-range outlook you can remember you're just a steward, remember who you are, what you're about, and allow you to be committed. For me, the main thing I keep coming back to is the need to give something up. I'm not making more time in my day - it just doesn't happen. And in order to be, well, ordered, I need time. So, I'm gradually being won over to the idea that something, or some things in my life need to be given up so that I can indeed have that privately ordered life...

Part I: Ordering Your Private World
Part II: Symptoms of a Driven Person

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