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Benched in Tarsus
My Reflections
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April 4, 2011

Question/Topic in focus: Never underestimate the silent years


Matt DamonMaybe it's because Matt and I share the same birthday - even the year. Maybe it's because my wife, Aimee, gets a little giddy when she hears his name. Maybe it's because he's a relatively good actor. While Matt and I don't share the same political views or moral standards, I always seem to listen when he talks.


In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Damon reflected on life in the limelight. Just before the premier of Good Will Hunting, someone told Matt, "You're going to be famous, and it's going to be fun for a week." Then, Matt lamented to Piers, "When do I get my week?" Matt's point? Fame is overrated.


While few intentionally capitalize on the Christian industry, for some there's that nagging question, "Papa, when's it my time to shine? When will I get the chance to really make a difference for the Kingdom?" While the question itself poses some problems, it's an honest one and it's important we address it.


Benched in Tarsus
Excerpted from Journeys to Significance: Charting a Leadership Course from the Life of Paul by Neil Cole

JourneysAs Jesus once commented, a prophet's hometown and own people are usually the most resistant to the prophet's message. I'm sure that was the case here as well; that is the only way to account for the five times Saul was scourged by the Jews before he wrote 2 Corinthians, in 56 A.D. I am sure Saul preached the Gospel any chance he got, and he may even have started churches (Galatians 1:21; Acts 15:23, 41), but a decade in one place would have been a long time for this "sent one." May speculate that it was in Arabia that Saul sat and listened to the Lord about the important things concerning his life and faith (Galatians 1:11-12), but I believe it was while he was sidelined in Tarsus that Jesus tutored him and prepared him to fulfill his destiny (2011:29).


My Reflections

Magnifying glass
In my early 20s, I got my first "ministry" job. I was a college intern at a large church. Ohhh, how I loved the Lord and ministering in His name! And then something funky happened. Alongside the college pastor, I helped get 60 or so college students to a Christian winter camp. The speaker was mesmerizing - almost godlike. And that's when it happened. I remember thinking, that's what I want to do. While I didn't think of speaking to the masses in terms of fame per se, that's effectually what happened.


While the stories vary, what I just described happens to thousands upon thousands of young believers. For at least part of it, the system's to blame. For another part, it's cultural; we Americans value achievement. And we must own up to our part, too. For all sorts of reasons, our flesh cries out, I want to be important. Said another way, I want to be godlike.


Now, does God "bench" us because our priorities are out of whack? No, not always. In fact, that's usually not the case. Usually, it's because some of the best stuff happens when we're out of the limelight. What believer, for example, isn't grateful for King David's shepherd and cave years? Or Moses's Midian years? Or Yeshua's carpenter years? Was Paul somehow less productive during his "lost" decade? I think not. Truly, it's a matter of right perspective. Listen to Paul: "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life..." (1 Thess 4:11). While Paul was certainly addressing some Thessalonian-specific issues, there's no doubt in my mind Paul understood the power of an ordinary and obedient life.


Things have certainly changed for this ol' bird. While the spotlight has always alluded me, it's no longer a concern of mine. Maybe I've just come to terms with it. Or maybe I've been spooked by what fame does to people. Or maybe, just maybe, I've come to truly appreciate the value of a quiet life - as a man who believes there's just as much power in obediently riding the pine as there is in making the buzzer-beating shot.


As always, The Banqueting Table hopes this was of some benefit to you.


Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

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The Banqueting Table does not necessarily endorse the contents of all videos, papers, or websites linked above. As with all information, please test everything you read and hear against the Scriptures.