Professional Christian Redux

I’ve written before about becoming a “Professional Christian.” To reiterate, most people think that a “professional” refers to someone who is remote, and only committed to something—a business, a movement, a faith—because of what they can get out of it, particularly monetarily speaking.

A lot of folks think that a professional is defined only by the payoff.

However, as great writers and thinkers like Seth Godin and Stephen Pressfield point out, a true professional isn’t defined by the payoff she might get; rather a professional is defined by their commitment to their craft.

A professional isn’t governed by their feelings; they show up, day after day, to do the work that they’ve been called to do. They stay in it when things get difficult, and they don’t deviate until the job is done, the book is produced, the art is finished.

A professional is faithful.

Doesn’t that sound like a disciple?

As part of my job, I spend time with a variety of different people. I’ve recently been hanging out with a nineteen year old guy who is pretty talented at a variety of different things—music, programming, sports, etc.—but who is having a difficult time focusing his efforts.

His life lacks a little momentum.

We started going through (of all things) Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I told him, “We’ll mutually agree on reading chapters. If you show up and you haven’t done the reading, you have to buy me lunch. Otherwise, I’ll pay.”

(So far, he’s doing fine.)

Two weeks in, however, he set aside his book and told me, “Hey, I need to talk to you; I’m kind of struggling spiritually… I’m just not ‘feeling it.'”

We talked about all of the things that could be behind this situation, but essentially it boiled down to the fact that he simply wasn’t “showing up.”

His spirituality was governed by how he felt, rather than his commitment to putting himself in front of God (and to putting God in front of himself) frequently and consistently enough to allow God to grow and mature his faith.

This, my friends, is what “amateur spirituality” looks like.

It’s governed by emotionalism, by whether or not we “feel like” praying, worshiping, meditating, serving, etc., etc.

The long-term results are a shallow, lukewarm faith, and ultimately apathy.

Rather, I think we need to learn to cultivate a spirituality that shows up, day after day to do our part in allowing God to form His Spirit in us. It’s not easy; it’s not automatic; it’s not quick.

But professionals don’t care about any of those things.

Professionals are committed to the long-term “win”.

They’re committed to the project.

To the art.

To the vision.

Here’s the thing: God wants you to grow. He intends for you to become Christ-like.

This is no far-fetched, strange notion; it’s actually the entire point of our existence. IF we take seriously the fact that God created us as icons—images—of Himself (Genesis 1v27); if Jesus really meant that we are supposed to “greater things” than he did (John 14v12); if we really are meant to grow up into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3v19), then we have to take seriously the idea that we have work to do (even as God does His work in us).

So why not commit to it, as a professional?

How can you become more “professional” in your spiritual life? In what ways do you need to simply start showing up, day-in and day-out?

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Why Not Become a Professional Christian?

I’d like you to think about becoming a professional Christian.

Do those two words even belong together? What does that look like? A televangelist? A faith healer? A church shopper? A person who takes faith and turns it into something legalistic and dead?

It seems like a far cry away from the idea of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving others as yourself.

A far cry from the Good Samaritan; from the Father running after his long lost son; from the powerful images pulled from the BIble. Rather it seems dry, dead, almost crass.

I’ll actually allow that it’s really easy to think about it like that; in fact, that’s very much the way I used to think about it.

A year or so ago, a little book was recommended to me, and it has revolutionized my way of thinking about a lot of things.

In The War of Art, writer Stephen Pressfield sets forth powerful insights into the nature of creativity, but as I read the book a thought started to form in my head…

What if these same creative principles apply to living the “Spiritual Life”? 

What if our primary call is to create our own Gospel-shaped life? 

Pressfield says that the key to the creative life is to “become a professional.” Here’s how he describes it:

The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.

To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it’s his vocation.

The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.

The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is all there seven days a week.

The word amateur comes from the Latin root meaning “to love.” The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while th epro does it for the money. Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real vocation.

The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

So many people are hungry for something different.

So many people ask themselves, “Can my life really be different? Can it look at all like some of these stories I read in the Bible or church history?”

So many people even want it to be different.

But they aren’t willing to “turn pro” as Pressfield defines it.

They may be willing to give their life to God, but they’re not willing to give their life to the process of God’s work in their lives. They’re not willing to give their life to it, to show up every day in order to create their “work of art”—their Gospel-life.

You can hunger all you want, but most of the time it—life change, or spiritual growth—is simply not going to magically happen. We have to commit to going beyond being “amateur Christians” and actually choose to do the work—not in the sense of earning our salvation, but in the sense of arranging our lives for spiritual growth. 

Letting God do the work, but making sure we show up and give His Spirit the space to do so.

What would it look like if you decided to “turn pro”?

What would have to change?

What would you gain?

What would you lose?

 

more thoughts to come….

 

 

 

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