Innies vs Outies

The first time that I saw an outie I didn’t have a name for it. It belonged to my step brother. Had he been in an accident?

A lot has happened since that day including me learning that my step brother hadn’t been in an accident and that he wasn’t alone. Approximately 10% of people have a navel that looks pretty different than mine.

I know that this is random but what got me thinking about belly buttons was the seminar we hosted last Saturday that helped people think through what it might look like to be an influence for Christ where they work. In this context most of you are insiders (innies) and I am an outsider (outie). An insider is a person who works in an office, is a part of a team, or a member of a group. They are “insiders” because they naturally belong, have relationships, and therefore are in a position of influence. An outsider is someone like a pastor who is, well, on the outside of that network, that environment. Do pastors have influence? Of course. But I’m not sure they have as much as insiders do.

Take Justin McBrayer who is currently an associate professor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado but who was a part of The Crossing while doing his graduate work (M.A. and Ph.D.) at the University of Missouri. In Monday’s edition of the New York Times there appeared an article that Justin had written entitled “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts.” You should read the article because he carefully lays out how school curriculum is confusing the difference between fact and opinion and (most interestingly in my opinion) how the school’s definitions undermine the character and behavior that teachers rely on.

But ultimately my point in this post is not the content of Justin’s article as good as it may be. My point is that Justin was asked to contribute this article to the New York Times because he’s an insider. How many times do pastors like me get asked to write a piece for the Times? Not many. Maybe never? It’s not that pastors don’t have intelligent things to say. It’s because pastors are outsiders in the same way that Justin is an insider. He is a professor and as such is part of the group the Times asks to contribute to its pages.

The Bible is full of insiders who God used in amazing ways. There is Nehemiah who was a cup bearer for the King and was able to talk to the king about the condition of Jerusalem, Esther who was a part of another king’s court and through her position and influence was able to spare her people from a great massacre, and Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the ruling class to whom Pilate released Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.

Think about William Wilberforce, the member of the British Parliament, who used his position to end the slave trade in England. When Wilberforce considered giving up his position because it was so difficult to walk with Christ in that environment, John Newton (the slave trader turned pastor and author of Amazing Grace) encouraged him to stay in government because perhaps God had elevated Wilberforce to his position for a reason.

Take a look around your office, your neighborhood, your school, your team, your PTA, your Rotary and think that God has put you there for a reason. You have relationships with people that I will never meet and more importantly have no interest in talking with a pastor. If you have worked hard at your job and done a decent job of being a friend, these people like you and trust you. They observe your integrity, watch how you handle adversity, enjoy your hospitality, and maybe even ask for your advice about life. Perhaps, like Wilberforce, Nehemiah, Esther, and Joseph of Arimathea, God has put you in this place to be a light for Christ and have an influence that no one else can have.

One Comment

  1. Hannah said:

    How timely that I would read this tonight. I was just explaining to my husband that my understanding of the purpose of life changed last week but I didn’t realize it until today. I’m involved in a Beth Moore Bible study and in our homework she had us reading about our purpose in life-a life as a missionary. And as probably the majority of 24 year olds feel, I feel lost. I don’t feel particularly good at any thing. I have no passion but rather several interests/hobbies. Since our son fell ill, I haven’t been able to go back to teaching. I’m not particularly witty, nor do I hold a conversation easily. I’m not a deep thinker who says really enlightening things. I’m terrible at math, and I’m not super adventurous. I’m just Hannah and am learning how to have a relationship with God. I don’t know what my calling in life is, but I’m okay with that. I heard of a story today though that got me thinking “what magnificent thing will I do in my lifetime? Why am I here?” Will I save someone from a burning building? Will I administer CPR to someone choking? Will I teach a kid to read and he’ll go on to thank me at some big award show years later? Will I find an abducted girl? Will I birth the next Bill Gates or Miranda Lambert? And then I realized that I had been misled for 24 years. My entire life I thought God put you here to perform some great thing. Cure cancer, fight world hunger, create jobs, etc. But Beth Moore helped me realize our purpose here on Earth is to give God glory. Our purpose is to live a life as if we were wearing a sign that said “I love God and I follow him.” Live life honoring God to be an example for those who are watching. Bring people to God-that’s our purpose.

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