It’s an example that should challenge every talented and brilliant person: You owe it to yourself and to the world to actively engage with the brief moment you have on this planet. You cannot retreat exclusively into ideas. You must contribute.
~Lives of the Stoics, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
I like ideas. I’m an idea-oriented person. I can sit and converse about theory, hypotheticals and all kinds of ivory tower stuff for hours, especially over a good meal and some nice beverages. Where I stumble, at times, is in the implementation of those ideas and theories.
For example, the local church exists as a place where people can gather together, worship God with one another, and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus even gives us our primary task to “make disciples” at the end of the Gospel of Matthew.
I can talk for hours about discipleship. I’ve read all kinds of books on it. I have some ideas of how the modern church can learn from the founding of the Methodist movement and get organized in such a way that is most effective for making disciples. But actually putting that stuff together and getting people to show up for it? Well… that’s the hard part. I’ve never really been able to implement a solid discipleship process in the local church. Moving from idea to reality is a difficult transition to make.
This is the true challenge in life, though, isn’t it? How do we live out all these great principles we have in our heads? How do we close the gap between theology and praxis?
Undoubtedly, you have a set of principles that guide you in life. But how well do you do at implementing them in the nitty gritty of real life? This is one of the ideas that has helped draw me to Stoic philosophy lately. The idea that it is a very practical way to approach life. Certainly, I wouldn’t call myself a full-blown Stoic, but, like with any good system of life, I would like to live out the best principles within the framework of my own faith as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
And so, I am reminded and challenged to engage more. On the one hand, this is not always easy for an extreme introvert that likes the quiet time to myself. But, on the other hand, if I’m not living out these principles and actively engaging the world in which I live, what good am I offering the world?
So, let me encourage you as well to get out there. As nice as the ivory towers are, we can’t stay in them forever. We need to take some of what we are learning and talking about into the world. That’s how we do our part to make the world a better place.