- Husband/Wife (if married)
- Parent (if children)
- Church member (by putting church after family, I mean what Paul says: that if a man doesn't rule his own house well, he's not fit for office in the church. I think the principle carries over for non-officers in the church: 1 Timothy 5:8. I'm well aware that people can magnify the family to the neglect of the church. I'm not suggesting that's ok.)
- Community Member
Some might combine 1 and 5 by working out at the local gym intentionally seeking to be a witness of Christ. They're stewarding their body; they're involved in the community and are following the command of Christ in the great commission. Another might focus in on 4 by leading a small group Bible study or discipling and mentoring younger believers, which also is part of category 1. Parents might serve at the school their kids attend in an effort to be good community members (5), to reach out to neglected children (1), and be a light for Christ (1). Someone else might give themselves to seeking freedom for women trapped in the sex trafficking industry (1,5). Some might use their extra time for volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center to help save unborn babies and give true support to moms facing painfully difficult decisions (1,5). A family might make the life-altering decision to enter the foster system and begin ministering to needy kids and their families (1,3,5). Or another family could pursue adoption of an orphan from another country or our own country (1,3,5). Still another person might advocate politically at the school board, local, state, or national level for policies and laws that will enable Christians to live peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives (1 Timothy 2:2) and against policies and laws that would work against that goal (1,3,5). And on we could go. (If I've left out your niche, sorry!)
Isn't God good to give us such a variety of desires and gifts to be used for his praise as we walk through this world! In some ways, it might be great if we could all go all-in on all of those things and more we haven't mentioned. But the reality is that you and I are gifted differently and have finite amounts of time, energy, and resources. That means we can't do all of those things, and we shouldn't feel guilty about that. If you don't go to another country and tell people about Jesus, it doesn't mean you've violated Matthew 28:19-20; there are other ways to have a role in fulfilling the great commission. If you don't lobby for pro-life legislation, it doesn't mean you've broken the 6th commandment. If you don't adopt a child it doesn't mean you've run afoul of James 1:27. If you don't throw a block party it doesn't mean you've failed to love your neighbor. Not everyone will be able to give the highest emphasis to each of these areas. But they can participate in other ways that fulfill God's calling on our lives to preserve life, spread the gospel, love the orphan and widow, etc. Some will be all-in on one area. Some will be in at a certain level on various areas. But we can't do it all to the max. And that's ok. Now, if you have no heart for the widow or orphan or missions or evangelism or the preservation of life at every stage, that's not ok. But there are different Biblical ways to express that heart.
Given those realities, here are a few suggestions on how we relate to and view one another in our various pursuits as we follow Christ.
- Be passionate about your pursuit! What God has given you a heart and giftedness for, go after with all of your heart!
- Encourage others in their pursuits. Praise God for their labors in their chosen sphere of emphasis for the cause of Christ. If you're not all-in in a particular area, you can help someone who is.
- Understand that not everyone will be passionate about your pursuit. That doesn't make them less of a Christian. It doesn't mean they don't care about what you're doing. It means God has given them different desires, different calling, or put them at a different place in their life. Because someone engages in your particular passion in a way that is different or less involved than you doesn't make them a lesser Christian or give room to look down on them.
- Don't assume you know why someone does what they do or why they don't do what you do. We don't know all of people's stories. Assuming we do can lead to unfounded, hurtful conclusions.
- If someone isn't vocal about what they do, it doesn't necessarily mean they're not doing anything.
- If we all gave max effort in every noble, worthy, God honoring cause, most of us would burn out and not get much done. Praise God for the diversity he has given us in the body of Christ and that so much good is being done by so many people in so many different areas.
- But some truly aren't doing anything or enough. If that's you or me (and it's not due to legitimate limitations), it may be time to think about reallocating some time and effort towards greater usefulness in the Kingdom of God. Don't use this post as a justification for laziness or sin. Learn what people are passionate about and why and see what aligns with your own gifts and desires and get after it.