There are a million reasons to stay on the couch.
Passive resignation before the unyielding hardness of life and leadership can easily become a lifestyle. Passivity has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it’s so much easier than getting up, walking out the door, and facing the music. You can even spin it in acceptable directions: living a ‘balanced life’ springs to mind and—apparently—to the pens and keyboards of a thousand suburban Christian writers, for whom balance and peace have become the twin goblet handles of the Holy Grail.
The apostle’s instruction to Timothy adds a note of realism to the soothing Musak.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6–7 NIV)
Timothy’s charism was God-given, mediated by the calloused palms of his mentor.
Yet its nurture was all about fervor and purpose. Timothy’s determination would become the bellows that would turn the divine spark of innate capacity into the warming, gathering flame that its Giver intended.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul instructs his pupil in the ferocious arts of power, love, and self-discipline. These are the taut disciplines that flow from daily exercise, from the unpleasant but essential determination to get up and go. They are martial arts. They are not cuddly, not soft, not given to individual exceptions.
Otherwise gifted men and women go flaccid and—in time—useless, absent the hard work of starting. Today, as yesterday, as the day before. Tomorrow’s beginning will likely be no easier. The day after that will require the same hard-boiled initiative.
The crafting of life for blessing never comes easily.
The gifted man who stays on the couch is forgettable and on his way to pathetic.
The apostolic instruction sketches God as the double giver: he gives the charism that makes a world of good a plausible outcome.
He gives also the ‘spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline’ that convert the potentiality of it all—one sweaty day after another—into life, hope, and sustenance for those who depend upon the woman or the man who really, honestly, would rather stay on the couch.