As I carry on in my journey through the Ender’s Game series, I continue to be impressed by some of the insights in Orson Scott Card’s writing. In Children of the Mind, the fourth book in the series, he includes the following gem:
“I find out what I really want to do by seeing what I do,” said Ender. “That’s what we all do, if we’re honest about it. We have our feelings, we make our decisions, but in the end we look back on our lives and see how sometimes we ignored our feelings, while most of our decisions were actually rationalizations because we had already decided in our secret hearts before we ever recognized it consciously.”
This sentiment echoes one of the things I have come to hold in the world of ministry, theology, and Christian living. Namely, that if we want to know what we really believe or what our theology really is, we should look not as much to our words as to our actions. For those students who have an inherited distaste for theology, this serves as a way to remind them that whether they like it or not, each of us has a particular set of principles that organize the way we see and interact with the world. Amongst learners who revel in lofty academic distinctions and embrace the world of the theological, it reaffirms that it is not these cleverly articulated systems which matter in the end, but rather what we actually do.
I included the quotation in a ministry class I was teaching this week to underscore a related idea: that what lies at our core (personally or organizationally) defines us and our actions. And, if the actions we take reveal that in the center of this “secret heart” we are fundamentally out of step with where we should be, ought we not to take steps to correct this? To establish a better foundation for life and ministry that will serve to enact change and serve in love? Not only having a carefully considered and clearly vocalized “vision” for ministry is important, but making sure it is really a part of our being (and therefore actions) as well. This alignment and focus will not be easy, but will serve to be essential.
All of this is worth considering, even on a Friday. It even reminds me of a similar quotation:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Jesus, Matthew 6:21