Friday 12 August 2016

Doing vs Being

By Ruth Amos

One of the things I struggle with on an almost daily basis when it comes to writing is that there is no guarantee of the outcome. I’m not talking financial outcome here although there’s no guarantee of that either. But I’m talking about the outcome when it comes to working for God.

I was raised in a missionary family (in Australia) and we were always encouraged to share the gospel with others. I have been a part of children’s camps, door knocking, street drama, one-on-one conversations with strangers in the street, prayer walks, church child and youth ministry, worship leading, you name it, I’ve probably done it.

I’ve been trained to jump out of my comfort zone and stretch myself and share the Good News with anyone and everyone. I have almost felt that if I don’t feel uncomfortable, then maybe I’m not doing enough for God. Maybe I’m not doing God’s will.

Now, I’m an introvert. Living in mission communities, going on camps, talking to complete and utter strangers - these things are not me! I can do them, I’m socially able and I’ve been both formally and informally trained to do this kind of thing since infancy. But these activities, well, they don’t belong in my happy place.

What is my happy place? It’s sitting in my study, reaching into my imagination, putting words on a page. I love writing.

I hear many authors say that they love ‘having written’ rather than the writing itself, but I tell you - compared to a youth camp, writing is wonderful. And having written is even better!

But the question I struggle with is ‘am I doing enough?’

It takes a long time to write a novel, especially when working full time and helping out at church and raising a family. And I wonder whether it is ok to go on turning down ‘ministry opportunities’ just so that I can sit in my happy place and write. You have to say no to some things to say yes to writing, but does God want me to say no to these obvious kingdom building activities so that I can say yes to being comfortable by myself at home?

And look, if I knew that my little novel could be as successful in reaching people for Jesus as, say, the Narnia series, then of course the sacrifice would be worth it. But I don’t know what its impact will be at all. My novel that I’m spending years working on might not even be published. It might be ripe for the rubbish bin. I’ve heard that first novels often are.

How is that God’s plan?

Where are the results?

How am I kingdom building while sitting in my study working on my craft?

But here’s the thing: God doesn’t want me for what I can do for him. God just wants me. All of me. He wants a relationship with me.

I’ve been encouraged by several podcast and interviews of do-ers to whom God has said ‘I just want you to stop and worship.’ People like Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales, and Bill Myers - McGee and me. Both of these men were working full-on for God when God stopped them in their tracks and told them that they needed to stop doing, and start being more fully in relationship with Him.

God loves me. Full stop. Not because of what I do, not for how many people I bring into the kingdom. I mean, let’s be honest - He does all the bringing anyway.

Sometimes God asks us to jump out of our comfort zones and stretches us, and sometimes he uses the gifts and personalities he’s given us and asks us to do what is beautifully comfortable.

And what we need to do? We need to be willing. Ready. We need to LOVE the Lord our God.

And we can do that in our studies, our supermarkets, on the street, in camps, in our families, everywhere.

Let’s work on being like Jesus, lets spend time loving Jesus, and leave the results up to him.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life" 

Ruth's ambition is to lead a quiet life. Some days she is more successful than others. She works three jobs, looks after her family and helps out at church, not to mention the coffee she drinks with friends. She wants to share her quiet life moments here. 


  1. I can relate to lots of what you have written here, Ruth, with a husband who has been in ministry all our married life and having done many things in ministry myself. And I had to grapple with these exact questions you mention when I left a very busy ministry role and started writing about twelve years ago. I would often here this little voice in my head saying, 'What are you doing, sitting here writing all by yourself? You left a perfectly good ministry role where people needed you. Why don't you go and do something useful?' etc. But then I learnt to close my ears to that voice and to hear God's loving voice saying, 'I'm so delighted, Jo-Anne, that you are doing exactly what I'm calling you to do at this stage of your life. Keep going!'

    Like you too, I also had to realise that, even if no one read my books (I have seven published now and an eighth one almost published) and even if I never wrote another word, that would not change my relationship wit God. I would still be so loved and so valued, book or no book. I'm so glad you--and all of us--can rest in that truth.

  2. Ruth, firstly thank you for taking my 'spot' on the blog this month. Now I know why! God wanted me to read your post. It has blessed me tremendously. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. x

  3. Hi Ruth, I can relate to such a lot of your thoughts and experiences here. I like Susan Cain's advice in her best seller, 'Quiet.' We introverts should realise that we're not designed for a whole lot of full-on activities regarding socialising and talking, so we need to decide just how much 'necessary extraversion' we are willing to commit to each week, and guard the rest carefully. I also believe we can't ever judge the overall impact of our work on others over the long term. For example, I just got a bit of good feedback about my novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' from a reader recently, yet I wrote it 18 years ago! Enjoy your quiet place, your writing, and your 'having written'. Thanks for making us think.

  4. Thanks for your post, Ruth - I've been having moments when I wonder, in the face of all that's happening in the world, is my pursuit of fiction like Nero playing the cithara while Rome burns, is it a rabbit trail or a trivial pursuit. I keep coming back to God's call & the fact that in withdrawing from the Arts, Christian have lost the opportunity to influence the imagination of a generation (or a couple of generations), so that the ground hardens against the seed. And by being part of writers groups I've had more opportunity move out of the Christian bubble. In using the creative gifts God gives us, we are following his creative lead & giving him glory.

  5. I love this Ruth! Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Thanks for your post, Ruth, really enjoyed it.


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