Randy Greenwald

Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

The Most Important Thing

In the car today I heard someone say on the radio with regard to the cardinals gathering in Rome to elect a new pope, “This is the most important thing these cardinals will ever do.”

And I wondered about that.

I understand the context and what the quoted meant to convey. But I wondered if he or they really believe that. These cardinals were no doubt once ordinary parish priests doing ordinary parish work. Is the work of electing a pope more momentous than what pastors perform in their own parish environments every day? Something tells me that it is not.

I rather suspect that the most important thing that any of us ever may do will not be known to us. Perhaps that word idly but fitly spoken settles upon another like an “apple of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) Perhaps that act of hospitality easily carried out by us sets a guest thinking about Jesus. We can’t know the importance of our acts.

A college professor changed the tenor and direction of my life by listening to me one day and then recommending a good book. Probably not the most important thing he ever did, but something of great importance in my life and something the impact of which he could never have imagined.

As I said, I suspect that the most important things that we do in our lives are never quite known to us but come about not because we have achieved a place of prominence but because while being faithful in our callings God opens up a door of influence.

And we may never know what he will do with that faithfulness.

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9 Comments

  1. Once again you’ve said something powerful in a gentle voice. Thanks!

    • You are so kind. Thanks for your encouragement. Now, is ‘cardinal’ supposed to be capitalized? ‘Pope’? I didn’t take the time to find out…

  2. I believe cardinal is not capitalized unless you are using it as a specific individual’s title. Pope, on the other hand is probably capitalized as there is only one and it is always an honorific. Making that up as I type, so you probably still want to check if you care πŸ™‚

    • You make sense. Of course, I’m a Protestant, and so I could stick with ‘pope’ as a protest, ‘cuz that’s what we do.

  3. LOL! I would take Jen’s “made-up” version of grammar most any time!

    And someone once gave me that very same book. It also changed the direction of my life. Thanks, old friend!

    • But that’s my point, of course. His careful listening and recommendation with a single student among hundreds had a wonderful ripple effect. If you didn’t, go back and read this: http://randygreenwald.com/2010/07/24/a-final-status-update/

    • And by the way, “old friend” is much more descriptive than things like “gentle reader”. I am “old”, a “friend”, and a “reader”. But gentle just does not seem EVER to fit.

      • chrisinnm

        But all my readers have always been gentle to me– I have never had any be aggressive or rough– so it appropriate to MY interaction with my readers!

  4. You two are making me smile! Randy: protest away! I take no offense. Also, I refer you to the first comment in this stream, where I do, in fact, call you gentle πŸ™‚ Chris, calling your readers gentle may actually call forth gentility of response. I wouldn’t mess with it if it has been working for you!

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