Human Doing vs. Human Being

I’ve been reflecting of late on a question that some may find rather strange, but hopefully some of you will resonate with: Am I a “human doing” or a “human being”? I think about this issue the closer I get to the finish line of my time as senior pastor of our church. Come October 2012 and I will no longer have the roles and responsibilities of senior pastor at EFCCL. Will I be able to handle that inevitability well, and in a God-glorifying way?

As I have been reading once again the Chronicles of the kings of Judah, I am reminded of how many of them washed out toward the end of life. They began their race well, obeying and honoring God with brave and forthright leadership and decision-making. But somewhere along the way they began to lose their stride spiritually. And I can’t help but wonder if it was because they resorted to emphasizing “human doing” — where life became all about self-aggrandizing achievement — rather than “human being” — where the focus is on developing godly character.

I think about my 90-year-old father, who has lived the second half of his life so well, modeling to me “human being” rather than “human doing.” Though many of his freedoms and faculties are diminishing, in our weekly talks he always expresses profound joy and contentment about life and a sincere gratitude to God for His abundant blessings. Earlier in his life, Dad was for sure all about “human doing,” so much so that frustration and anger often marred his character and scarred his family. But today he is truly a “Christian gentleman” who, even in human weakness, is finishing life’s race with a special kind of flourish. I admire him for that!

As we learn from those kings of old, there are so many things that can derail us from “human being.” Should we gain a certain amount of power and prestige, for example, we can begin to think we earned the perks and deserve man’s praise and become prideful and arrogant. The power can become corrupting, and we can lose our determination to serve others in humility and with gentleness and respect, and insist instead on being served. Amaziah and Uzziah, father and son, were kings who began by doing “what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” but both caved in spiritually during the second half of life and took on deaf ears to the Lord and the word of His prophets. And sadly the “human being” of godly character disintegrated, and the “human doing” of personal achievement became more polluted and abusive.

For neither of them came that ultimate word of the Lord we all should want to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Father, help us to fix our eyes on Jesus and to focus on “human being” more so than “human doing” as life on this earth keeps moving faster beneath our feet!

by Bob Page, Senior Pastor