Am I selling myself too short?
The question has become a refrain. When I wake in the morning and indulge in my regiment of exercise and reading, I ask it. In the middle of the day, between coffee shops and book covers and lunch meetings, I ask it. As the evening comes to a close, after the kids are tucked away and my wife and I have strained out the last seconds of quality time together, I ask it.
And yet, my life boasts all the marks of health and moderation: spiritual disciplines, family affections, pastoral diligence, and bursts of relief through sports, milkshakes, crossword puzzles, and time with friends. I’m no marquee of perfection—not that I’ve attained it—but, unlike Paul, I’m not sure I’m pressing on.
Something about my stride feels to short. And I know the problem: I don’t follow through. My resolution at the beginning of the year—which I’ve spiritualized into an annual “Spiritual Growth Theme”—claimed follow through as its target. I’m afraid I’m missing it.
Below are a few examples:
- I have a manuscript about my reflections on the house/simple/organic church movement less than one chapter from completion. The book has strong voice, good rhythm, helpful critique, and strong theological insights. I can’t promise anyone would buy it, but I stand by its quality. It's really good. There’s one major flaw with HouseBroken—Reflections from a House Church Prodigal: I can’t follow through to finish it.
- Another writing project waits in the queue. My working title is Miserable Praying. It weaves personal confession with biblical teaching on the challenge of prayer. I'm an expert, not on the discipline, but the difficulty. I read two or three prayer books every year to spark my prayer life. I don’t follow through with the authors’ suggestions. So I thought I’d write my own rant, hoping it would be cathartic and catalytic. Unfortunately, it hasn’t moved much beyond a table of contents.
- I want to design a game for men in the church to hold them accountable in their spiritual lives. After reading the book (one thing I do follow through in is reading!) Reality Is Broken, I began to see the philosophy of games less as sheer escapism and more as a platform for engaging men seeking victory, meaning, and fiero moments. DiscipleLoop (which is the worst name I can think of) tasks a group of men with a PATH, LOOP, and JUMP. It’s potentially awesome. Sadly, Evernote is holding the idea captive, and I don’t know when I’ll follow through to feed it.
- As I approach my sixth year at Leesburg Grace Brethren Church, I’ve also toyed with the idea of a new kind of Sabbath. Church life has the tendency to consume all of one’s time and relational capital. Left unattended and unprovoked, my social ties to unbelievers can quickly thin down to a single thread. I’d love a Sabbath where I retreat into the world of business or education or farming or “secular” work that links me to lost people. I’ve laid out the notion to a handful of people who seemed intrigued. Their initial response proved satisfying enough to leave it alone for a year now.
In moments where I free my mind to drift and dream, a cloud of innovation lifts me. My idea count easily exceeds one hundred. Many could be terrible. Several could expand God's glory. Sadly, I may never know. If I don’t test and toy, prod and pry, experiment and execute--i.e., follow through--then my suspicion will linger.
Yes: I may be selling myself too short.