Jim Elliot was an American evangelical missionary who was killed in Ecuador while participating in a mission to one of the local people groups. Jim Elliot, along with four other men, are motivation for modern Christians and missionaries. I would venture to say that the death of Elliot along with the others did much to greatly enhance the modern missionary movement among evangelicals.
Known for his death, Jim Elliot’s life and words have been remembered and delivered to us by his wife Elisabeth. She did much in the year’s following her husbands death to tell their story. An incredible thing that is available to us now is some of Jim’s journals. These give real insight into Jim’s inner life with Christ.
I was backhanded last week by one of Jim’s entries. Before I go any further, please know that I am writing this post primarily for myself. If you get something out of this, great, but I am simply preaching to myself first.
The entry said this, “Wherever you are, be all there!” It was brought to my attention as the word of the day for a morning workout group that I have been participating in (that in itself is another story that I hope to visit soon).
These words continued to ring in my ears for the next several days and weeks. The ringing turned to a digging and a prodding. You see there is a trait that I often hate about myself, that is when I notice that I am doing it. It is not being all there. I think I have programed myself to always be thinking about the next “thing.” For the past eight years, I have been working as a Youth Pastor. These have been some of the most rewarding, trying, memorable, and blessed times of my life. My first six years as a Youth Pastor, I was also enrolled in a Masters program. On top of this, I got married and had became the daddy of two children. As you can imagine, this took up a pretty good chunk of my time. So as my schedule became busier and more crowded it became necessary to continually look forward to what was coming up next. This week I have a theology paper due, a class to attend, a retreat to chaperone, Bible study to plan, and so on. I think this kind of schedule added to an already introspective personality. I tend to internalize and think through things that I have to do. Sometimes this happens in inopportune time (such as conversations with people). This is not a quality that I particularly like about myself.
Other things distract me as well. And if you honestly ask yourself, they probably distract you too. How many times have you had a conversation with your spouse, friend, or child and had a situation from work on your mind. Sometimes it is hard to leave work at the office. And if you are like me and have a job that never stays at the office, it is even harder.
Facebook, twitter, sports updates, emails, worthless quizzes, and such are a huge distraction. Have you ever sat in a room of people who constantly check there phones? If you have sat in a room with me you probably have experienced this. I’m sorry.
I’m still a work in progress. I am setting up boundaries for myself – times, limits, no phone zones, etc. But, from now on, I am seeking to make this one of my life goals: “Wherever you are, be all there.”
One thought on “Wherever You Are, Be All There”
I can’t think of a biblical teaching that addresses this admonition directly. However, it seems to match well with Paul’s admonitions to how we are to behave as a church.
I, for one, get bored and distracted pretty easily. Years ago, in school, when a teacher was teaching things I already knew, it was easy to think about other things. Today, if a meeting drags on covering the same material over and over because someone didn’t get it the first time, my mind wanders.
But when we have a group of people together, I know I need to pay attention because someone may need some gift I have to minister to them. It’s rare enough that it happens, I guess, but it won’t happen at all if I’m not alert and looking for it. And so we should all consider our availability to those around us and how we might best meet their needs according to the abilities we have been given by the Spirit in the name of Christ.
Jim Elliot couldn’t have known how his availability would result in his death and how his death would result in the door being opened for the gospel to be taken to the Huaorani. And so our simple availability could be used to minister to someone in a way that we don’t know.