Tag Archives: paul

The importance of content

Troubled times.

Troubled minds.

Uncertainty about, well, about most everything.

And in social media, we talk about content, about being able to deliver good and consistent and useful content.

Sometimes content can help with uncertainty, clarifying causes and suggesting alternatives. Often, however, content actually doesn’t change anything. It serves as an attitude, as a way of handing the much and the little of life.

Wait. I’m guessing you think I’m talking about content, as in ingredients, components, stuff. I’m actually talking about content, as in contentment.

Paul was a guy who knew about ups and down. He knew a lot about content (the first kind), having been an incredible scholar and then turning into a prolific author. In the process of living, however, he worked on learning a lot about content, the second kind. In fact, writing a letter, sitting in jail, he wrote

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:11-13

Paul decided that worrying about the market, worrying about his holdings, worrying about his retirement was not worth his energy. He trusted the maker rather than the market.

It didn’t–this confidence–make him rich. It didn’t keep him out of jail. It didn’t keep people from detesting everything he said.

But when you are in love, the rest of that doesn’t matter so much.

Regardless of the content of your portfolio, you are …content.


preach what you practice

The old scholar is near the end of his life. He has one last time, as far as he knows, to talk to his favorite student. It is, as far as we know, his last lecture.

They have spent much time together. They have spent much time apart. The teacher has done more than talk to his student. They have traveled together. He has put the student in several internships. He has left the student in charge of his own classes. The teacher has written to his student before, providing lecture notes and teaching strategies and personal advice.

And now, near the end, he is winding down his comments.

“You know all about my teaching,” he writes. And in that, he is consistent with what most of us would say. “Do what I’ve said.”

But he goes on.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. (2 Timothy 3:10-11)

As a teacher, he was willing to point to his teaching. But he also pointed to how he lived, what he was about, what his character was like, what he went through. Paul, this teacher, was willing to open his whole life to this student, willing to be ruthlessly transparent.

He knew he wasn’t perfect. But that was part of the point. It wasn’t his perfection that he was arguing for anyway. His message was that God had worked in his life…and the only way he could make that claim is if he opened up his life. In fact, that’s the next phrase:

Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

The challenge for me is simple: can I preach what I practice.  It’s easy to say almost anything. It’s easy to write, to tell, to say. And then try to get what I live in line with that.

But if I laid out what Paul does…say, live, believe, suffer. That’s a tough standard. But if you are talking about how to live, I guess it would be a fair test.

Time to think a bit more.