I’m 33 years old. Let’s say I live to be 100. Best case scenario I’ve completed a third of my life. The first third of my life was relatively unremarkable. Looking at the fictional “bucket list” I still have a lot of dreams, goals, and accomplishments left to complete. I have suffered through some hard times. I have experienced great exhilaration and moments of joy. But, with 33 years in the past I’m left with precious little to show for it. A sober judgment of myself reveals that I’ve talked a good game… but don’t have the track record to back up my smack talking. That’s a crisis of self-realization, isn’t it?
Some respond to this reality in their lives by shutting up. I hope to respond counter to what my cultural leanings say is best. I do not think I’m called to slither away into silence and sit on a list of dreams for the next two-thirds of my life. Personal failures and moderate successes to date aren’t going to stop me from a pursuit of something much greater.
My personal mantra lately has been, “put up or shut up.” In relationships, I’ve gone into a risk taking mode by radically speaking the truth– making myself more available to some and less available to others. At work, I have a tendency to play it safe– but this mantra has me a lot more vocal. In my family, I realize that I can’t just talk a good game about stuff publicly– so I’ve gotten aggressive in putting up barriers to protect my family from my own stupidity. Those are just three areas of my life I feel like I need to put up or shut up. There are a lot more.
I look at my first 33 years as preparation for the next 33 years. It’s time for me… In increasing ways to put up or shut up.
I suppose there is a challenge for any Christian leader in this. This speaks to our worldview as believers. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true… it isn’t just a Gospel of personal renewal, it is also the Gospel of institutional, societal, interpersonal, and even corporate renewal.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
If Ephesians 2:10 is true God’s people are a people of renewal. Their good works make things better and better. It’s my naive hope that women and men who say yes to Jesus will embrace Ephesians 2:10 and wrestle with this reality… they need to put up or shut up. If we are really God’s workmanship the evidence of that will be our good works into our society. When I look at the people and institutions in my life… my society, my company, myself, and my family… I believe that our best days are yet ahead. If I am faithful to God, that is. I believe the reason I am placed in those institutions and relationships is because God prepared in advance for me to be there.
Conversely, it is the same for anyone who is God’s child. We are called to express the Gospel is tangible ways. (American evangelicalism focuses too much on church and preaching and not enough on application the other 6 days, 23 hours per week) We don’t just have relationships just by coincidence, do we? We don’t have families for biological reasons, we are called to live out the Gospel to our children and ones we are most intimate with. We are not just called to run a program or earn a paycheck, we are called to be God’s workmanship in the workplace. We aren’t just mystically placed into our apartment complex, neighborhood, or city randomly. God chose the work of loving our neighbors for us to do in advance for us to do. Those actions are the Gospel of Jesus Christ flowing through his people and renewing those areas of our lives.
“Is it time to put up or shut up?”