Hey! Cam Mackenzie here and I’m a doer.
The family I grew up in are doers too. If I truly could get a gold coin for every time I said “let’s make it happen” or “I’ll get it done”, my student loan would be well paid off. Now before you go picturing me as someone who blends the best of William Wallace, Richie McCaw and the Crocodile Dundee, know this: I have a strong introverted streak, enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon and have the ability to sit still.
That said, the times that make me feel like I’ve been really successful or productive in my day are when I’ve had the opportunity to sit with someone and do life alongside them. I love being able to leave home each morning with the crisp Dunedin air refreshing my tootsies (‘coz I’m always in jandals and shorts). I love boosting down the hill in Black Beauty (our car), hunting for a park near uni and then sprinting to team prayer. I may arrive in a huff and a puff but so far I’ve managed to dodge our $10 late fine!
As someone who feels called by God to serve here on campus in Dunedin- to help students connect with Jesus and mature in their faith- I love being face to face and hands on ministry.
When the norm isn’t so
On a normal day in a regular month I need to be careful that my desire to just jump into face to face ministry with others doesn’t take first priority over seeking God’s face.
This is a strong inclination for me and one that I’ve wrestled with for as long as I can remember as a Christian. Jesus’ shoots it straight in John 15 about how vital it is for us to remain connected to him for our lives to produce Christlike fruit. He puts it this way as he addresses his disciples: “apart from Me, you can do nothing.”
Like, nothing. Nada. Not even a little bit.
Me (or you!) doing stuff + disconnection from Jesus= zero lasting fruit.
I find that super sobering. I definitely don’t want to just do stuff for the sake of doing. No, I want the things I do and the way I do them to reflect God’s supreme worth. It’s an important reminder to me as someone who inclines naturally towards the doing side of the Christian life that, no matter how challenging it is to be still with God, it is absolutely essential for maturity. So it’s of the utmost importance that we figure it out.
But what about when it’s not a normal day in a regular month?
Well, this is where I find myself at the moment. I suspect so do you.
In this season- as we are all experiencing- I can’t do many of the things I normally would in the way that I’m familiar with doing them. Even though digital communication is totally possible and effective in connecting with people, my sense of daily productivity is impacted by my lack of leaving the house. Last week was a good example.
Our Otago team was given the freedom to settle into the lockdown without our regular work responsibilities. There was a part of me that was really grateful for this. Another part really struggled. I wanted to engage and make something happen, to earn the weekend’s rest, to solve a problem, accomplish a task, to do something. Our team’s top priority of the week was to ‘walk well with Jesus’. While I definitely enjoyed the extra space to be in my outdoor shed with God praying, worshipping and reading, I was itchy. Itchy to get out and get into something. Maybe you know what that’s like!
So what is a doer to do?
First off, I need to keep a healthy perspective about my urge to be active. Doing isn’t bad and having an inclination towards that is who I am. In many respects it’s a strength. Case in point: the reason why I’m typing this in a warm room is because two weeks before lockdown I trawled through Facebook marketplace and sourced these sweet-as panel heaters for our downstairs area (until then we had nicknamed it “The Freezer”). But if my doing- even my doing for God- comes at the expense of my being with him- turning my attention towards him throughout the day- then something’s off.
Secondly, I need to channel this desire to do towards things that add value to life, whether that’s mowing the lawn, chopping a tree down, running around my local area, building a DIY project or even accumulating 100 press ups throughout the day, done in sets between emails and Zoom meetings. These are healthy outlets in keeping with God’s original command to ‘reign over creation’ (Genesis 1).
Lastly, I need to surrender my itch to do to the Lord. All going according to plan, lockdown will finish and at some point in the future we will once more walk the streets, shake hands and begin a new normal post Covid-19. In those future days, I will be able to boost down the hill once more and stack my days connecting with people doing the things I love in the way that I love.
But, to quote Aragorn, that is not this day.
For now, I need to bring these urges and itches to God and ask that he give me his patience and peace. Patience for when I want to move out of my quiet time and into something else because I feel like I need to do something. Peace for when I’ve only accomplished admin tasks or have not had the chance to engage meaningfully with someone.
Yes, God meets us in the doing. But he also meets us in the being, in the stopping, in the stillness. If I fail to be still then I also risk missing the things that God would have me learn in that stillness and in those times of trusting him because I rushed on and got doing.
I’m inclined to think that God could use this season of doing less to prepare us for the future days when we get to resume our doing. So the connection we cultivate in the stillness makes our doing fruitful. He could.
The question is: will we have paused long enough from our doing now to hear him and receive what he’s giving?
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”- John 15:5
Are you naturally more of a ‘do-er’ or a ‘be-er’?
How have you noticed your inclinations being impacted by the lockdown so far?
What might God be wanting to grow or prune in you as you experience this season’s restrictions and opportunities?
- Listen to the Rhythms for Life podcast: Quarantine Rhythms
- Go climb a tree or lie in a bush