11Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
In this era, of the 24 hour news cycle, paparazzi, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, iPads, iPhones and so on and so on, it is increasingly difficult to live a quiet life, and not know the details of everyone you know. I don’t have a problem with social media. I utilize it. However, where is the line drawn?
In business, in ministry, in friendships, it’s critical to communicate, network and promote. Today, a 12 year old with a laptop can make themselves famous, or infamous, with a single 30 second YouTube video available to the entire world.
I recently crossed the scripture I used to open this post. I’ve read it before, numerous times. But this particular time, it hit me in a profound way. So many of us live our lives in complete contradiction to these verses. So many people live their lives on such a loud scale, they become a nuisance. You know what I mean. Like the car with the stereo so loud, you can hear the exterior of the car vibrating. The occupants of the car seem to think that we all need to hear the song to which they are listening. In truth, all we hear is the annoying pounding of the bass in the subwoofer. There are those who literally believe everyone needs to know their every thought and action in a given day. Yet, it doesn’t take long before all that the rest of us hear anymore is a pointless boom-boom-boom.
And how many people get swept away by living vicariously through the perceived excitement of someone else’s life, rather than living their own? But that’s another topic for another day.
As with all things, moderation is the key. I use a lot of tools to connect, network and promote. But I have seen the damage that can come by becoming obsessed with them.
When I read these verses again recently, I thought of the people in my life I respect and admire most. Some of them use social media tools. None of them are controlled or dependent on them. Their greatest and most significant accomplishments happen outside of the self-created limelight. They don’t need accolades. They don’t need applause. They don’t even want any of that. They are not busy-bodies, prying into the lives of others. They are not gossips. They are not attention seekers. They are simply good people of strong character, even when no one notices.
There is something profound in living a simple and quiet life. You can still live a full and exciting life while being quiet. When I think of quiet, I think of how keen my senses are to my surroundings. Like being in nature, away from honking car horns, sirens, construction sites, and the tumult of 21st century living. When you get away from it all, you hear the birds singing. You can hear the gentle lapping of the water at the lake’s edge. It’s peaceful.
“Make it your ambition,” means it has to be a choice. Determine that you will put less of your effort on broadcasting your life, and instead, live it in a way that pleases, honors and reflects the attributes of the One who breathed life into you. Be a person of strong character. Do good even when no one else will ever see or hear of it.
The more you promote yourself, the more dependent you become on the accolades of others, and you lose their respect. The more you seek to do good solely for the eyes of God, the more respect you will have for yourself, and the ones who matter will soon follow.