Aspiring To Lead A Quiet Life

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

,,,that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind our own business, and to work with our own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4.11,12

I read and meditated on this passage Wednesday morning. Something (or Someone) significant pulled at my heart and urged me to experience quiet. It was in that place that a new reality came to light – a quiet life is a loving life. One significant way to love others is to live quietly myself, tend well to my own affairs, and relate firmly and wisely with others.

Our tendency is to divide caring for ourselves from caring for others. St. Paul does not do this. We love others by quietly caring for ourselves. We quietly care for ourselves by loving others. There is no dichotomy here.

For the rest of the day, I intentionally did not watch the news (the day after mid-term elections), listen to the radio or Pandora, or engage social media. Instead, when possible, I read, prayed the Jesus Prayer, and kept my conversations to a minimum. I found my heart more focused on the Trinity, my mind less scattered.

Here’s a brief overview of 1 Thessalonians 4.1-12 to put the verses above in context:

Main Idea: How do we live and please God? (vv. 1-2)

Answer: Live in 1) holiness (sanctification) (vv. 3-7) and 2) love (vv. 8-12).

To live pleasing to God…

1-2 “abound more and more” in “how you ought to walk and to please God” by observing the “commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus”

1) Be continuously sanctified (3-7)

   “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” – How?

  • “abstain from sexual immorality” – no sex outside of man-woman marriage
  • “possess [your] vessel in sanctification and honor not in passion of lust”  – save your body for holiness and honor it, not giving in to desires/passions so as not to “take advantage of and defraud [your] brother.”
  • “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”

2) Love Others (8-12)

   “But concerning brotherly love…we urge that you “increase more and more” How?

  • “aspire to lead a quiet life”
  • “mind your own business”
  • “walk properly toward those who are outside”
  • Result – “so that you may lack nothing”

Focus: Aspire to lead a quiet life

“aspire” – to direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something; eagerly desirous; a strong desire to achieve

“lead” – conduct, a manner of living

       Outwardly: As much as possible, live in a quiet environment. Are you constantly surrounded by music and talk from television, cell phone, iPad, radio, or computer? When is the last time you sat in silence? What if you shut off the sounds clamoring for your attention? What do you think would happen?

       Inwardly: As much as possible, develop a quiet heart. A quiet heart develops in quietness. Carve out time in your day for quiet so that your heart and mind learn to be quiet. Solitude and silence are key to your desire for quietness.

Agents that disquiet our heart

Politics – It’s almost impossible to live in quietness when politics dominate our lives. Emotions run high. When our values and principles are attacked we may get agitated or angry and lash out. It’s possible to address differences with a quiet heart, but few of us know how to do this well.

Sports/competition – Disturbed emotions are pretty much innate in any competition. The players can use their emotions to bolster their efforts. The rest of us have few ways to properly release our emotions when watching sports unless our team is winning. Perhaps you’ve seen (or experienced) athletes with a quiet confidence – a “flow” – that allows them to compete “in the zone.” The rest of us get anxious or upset when our team (or ourself) fails to perform at a winning level.

Fear – The foundation of disquietness is fear. Applied to any area of your life – finances, family, health, work, or church – and you’ve got a climate for disordered and unhealthy living. Media constantly crams fear down our throats. Fear is the #1 enemy of quiet. Confront the sources of your fear and start cutting them from your life. 

Bad Habits – We intuitively know certain habits are not good for us. Yet, we engage them resulting in constant guilt or harmful rationalization. We may think that a bad habit will bring quietness to our soul, but it only makes matters worse. Look at your routines to see if they lead to a quiet heart. 

Conflict (arguments) – Few people like conflict. Some handle it better than others. What we do with it, how we respond to it, makes a big difference to our heart. I get disturbed when I see others in conflict, fighting or arguing over something even when I’m not involved. Since conflict is unavoidable, learning how to be quiet in the midst of it would be a huge help. 

Can you think of others that trigger disquiet in you – ones that get you in particular? 

For Every Christian

Aspiring to live a quiet life is for everyone. Some might find it easier than others to enter into. However, it is an invitation written for every Christian. We ought to be able to do this since we have the inner resources to make it happen. Why don’t we?

Do you remember the story I shared a few weeks ago about the almost fatal parachute jump of Mark Divine? Due to a mid-air collision with another parachuter disabling his chute, plummeting to earth, he had about eight seconds left in his life. He writes:

My mind slowed. Breathing slowed. Time even slowed. Each second seemed like a minute as I moved through the malfunction checklist…[nothing worked]…I’m screwed. I took another deep breath and shook the risers of the canopy again. I said my goodbyes and prayed…

Suddenly the chute caught some air, and then I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. The canopy had only partially opened, but it was enough….

What stuck with me most from this experience was how my training kicked in, allowing me to perform under extremely stressful conditions. Things felt almost mystical as my mind slowed down and allowed a larger intelligence and calmness to flow through me. I know I would’ve died if I’d tried to think my way out. My front-sight focus, combined with unconscious competence developed by relentless and realistic training, had saved my life.

Divine was trained to be quiet in the midst of stressful conditions. HIs mind slowed down and calmness flowed through him. Relentless and realistic training saved his life.

We need to train ourselves to be quiet and calm in all of life. Quietness can save us, too.

Let’s be honest. You and I are just too reactionary. We are too easily made fearful and anxious by the environment around us. We get irritated by the simplest contradiction and agitated by the slightest threat. Too often we’re disturbed by the inconsequential yet unmoved by the significant.

We need to change.

“Leading a quiet life” implies that we can function well in the best and worst situations. Whether chaotic and noisy or serene and tranquil, we are composed and peaceful. 

I wonder if the persons of the Trinity are ever disquieted. I doubt it. They are never in conflict and never live in fear. However, they can probably be angry and still be quiet. We need to learn what it is to live a quiet life by living in their life. Quiet begets quiet.

Remember Jesus peacefully sleeping in the boat while the disciples anxiously panicked in the storm? Who do you want to be like? Then Jesus, in quiet calmness, spoke words that brought quiet calmness to the storm and the disciples. From Quietness comes quietness.  

Do you aspire to lead a quiet life?

  • Deciding to live a life of quiet is a start.
  • Focusing your heart and mind on Jesus, who embodies quietness, helps you envision a quiet life. 
  • Following through with intentional efforts, like shutting down the noise and finding solitude and silence, is needed next.
  • Consistent and constant training in quietness is required. It’s not automatic. it takes focused effort to develop a quiet life.

In the Way Of the Warrior experience, you will be to learn to quiet your thoughts, shut down the noise, and focus on Jesus Christ who is your peace. 

You will become a more loving person. You will be given tools to battle disquieting passions. You will become more like Christ.

Thanks be to God!

Dr. K