The Impact of the Quiet Life
When I read that Taylor Swift drew 70,000 people to the concert opening her first tour in five years, it brought back memories. Not of Swift’s music, since I’m too old to be a fan of hers. Instead, I thought of being in a similar size crowd Aug. 2, 1975 for a Rolling Stones concert in Jacksonville, Florida.
Those were the days when I was a regular concert-goer, impressed by the glitz, glamour, floating beach balls, and frenzy of live music. Music blasted so loud at the jam-packed crowds that those who attended are lucky we still can hear.
Much has changed in my life in the last 48 years, but nothing more so than a taste for quieter surroundings and small groups rather than stadiums packed with thousands.
If there’s one thing I think that creates a feverish discontent in society, it’s the idea that only when we are part of a spectacular extravaganza that life has meaning.
It’s why the Super Bowl that started with marching bands and simple enjoyment of a season-ending football game has morphed into a spectacular event. The kind that has been priced out of the average football fan’s grasp and rarely lives up to the hype.
I would suggest instead of the spectacular we look for the quiet. We once attended a church that regularly attracted 2,000 people on a Sunday. But the services weren’t any better than at the church we now attend where 100 is a large turnout.
Narrow it further and what I really look forward to each week is the small men’s group I attend with five to eight participants. It’s a setting where we can explore spiritual topics, discuss concerns, share prayer requests, express joys—and know each of us has been heard.
Likewise, the best ministry doesn’t happen in a megachurch with thousands and a balcony to hold the overflow crowds. It’s one-on-one sessions. The kind where a person unburdens themselves of a personal struggle, tearfully confesses a mistake, or seeks help for a bothersome habit.
It’s not pastors who can command a TV audience, write best-sellers, and wow people with their spellbinding oratory who keep many congregations moving forward. It’s the ones who care about their people as they baptize, marry and eulogize them through life. They are the leaders who inspire the most admiration and build the strongest followers of Christ.
Quiet Life = Powerful Witness
One of the best examples of a quiet person who made an out-sized impact is the stepdaughter I lost to a fatal heart attack in 2005. A housewife who never worked outside the home, she didn’t like attention and lived in the country.
But at her funeral visitation, so many people showed up that the line stretched down the block. Among those who came were seven girls she had led to profess faith in Christ in the Sunday school class she taught.
Three hundred signed the guest book that evening. The funeral director said that typically about a fourth of the people don’t sign, meaning the crowd was closer to 400.
My stepdaughter made an impact through her thoughtful, caring ways, light-hearted laughter, and faithfulness to her family and community. That may not draw crowds and public adulation, but it is the quiet kind of influence that makes a difference.