Ends and Means

Ends and means have always challenged the people of God … and everyone else, for that matter.

We talk a lot about outcomes but have little concern for processes. Indeed, the faster we can get to the destination, the better. And this thinking undermines both the Church and our own spiritual vitality.

Ends and MeansWithin the church we’ll organize a big event with guest artists and celebrity speakers. We ratchet up the lighting and sound, and promote the occasion(s) heavily on radio or via direct mailing. We attract a large crowd and call it a “success” without much thought to the process or the implications.

An old mentor of mine used to say, “What you win people with is what you win people to.” If it’s the show that they like, then the show must go on, and on, and on.

“Means and ends” are just as challenging at a personal level. We want education without study. We want wisdom without experience. We want success without effort. We want fitness without exercise. We want weight loss without personal restraint. We want employment without qualification. We want retirement without saving. And so it goes.

However, this mentality also erodes our spiritual vitality.

We can sit around and dream of being close to God. We can talk endlessly about spiritual formation. We can affirm prayer and Scripture and community and truth, but will we devote ourselves to the processes that produce, by God’s grace, transformation?

The ends (goals) look so attractive; the means (processes) less so.

The early Christian disciples described themselves as followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2). The title matters. It indicates that they embraced a lifestyle, not just a label. They knew, right from the start, that faith is a way to live. Faith is a process word; a means word.

Many of us perhaps set resolutions for this New Year; ends that we’d like to achieve. Perhaps we have even established some attractive, impressive, and sincere spiritual goals. What small step can we take today — and repeat tomorrow — that will move us along “the Way”? 2015 will surpass 2014 not because of a few large steps or fast bursts, but because we embrace a long obedience in the same grace-shaped and grace-motivated direction.

Let’s worry less about ends and more with means.

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13 Responses to Ends and Means

  1. aruldoss_tg says:

    Dear David what a fantastic sermon  

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

  2. Tim Ross says:

    I’m not much for New Years Resolutions. I’m for daily knowing Christ deep in my heart as my best friend, loving Him with all my heart, and serving Him with all He’s given me. I’m for making Him a part of my existence every minute of the day (not there yet but working on it). I’m for allowing Him to change every part of me (because there is a lot that needs changing). That is my goal and it won’t change next year. I’m thankful for the work that God is doing in your life.

  3. Pam Timms says:

    Hi David. I love thee thoughts!! So true, and challenge me on many levels. I love the way our roles are reversed and you teach me and Dad now!!! Love…Mum

  4. Dick and Doris says:

    So good to have you back…. Enjoying your depth and resolve… Thanks… Dick in Show Low…

    David Timms posted: “Ends and means have always challenged the people of God … and everyone else, for that matter. We talk a lot about outcomes but have little concern for processes. Indeed, the faster we can get to the destination, the better. And this thinking undermin”

  5. Jana says:

    I agree. Life’s greatest lessons are learned in the experience gained along the way, not in simply crossing the finish line. On the job training is always a great teacher. God gently teaches, corrects and rebukes us as we go through life, and hopefully, in the end, we will have learned how great is He that leads us to His mansion with many rooms. We need to stop and smell the roses along the way and take in God’s many lessons and His truth. It is important to live with Him and in Him now and not be so focused on another day, for it may never come. Abide in Christ daily.

    • David Timms says:

      Jana, I like your emphasis on abiding fully in the present moment. Seems hard for many of us to do, when there’s always a goal or list in our hand. Thanks.

      • Jana says:

        Yes, we all tend to look to some future day (when I move there, when I get a new car or a larger house, when I find a better church) instead of abiding in Christ daily, every moment.

  6. Nonda Brown says:

    Dear David, my husband and I were just discussing this topic yesterday! Your post clarifies it so well! I can relate to being caught up in the end of a project without first looking at the means. I then become overwhelmed and wonder, “What did I get myself into?” Your book , Living the Lord’s Prayer, is an excellent example of the process and understanding God’s word! This study of the Lord’s Prayer has allowed me to slow down and look forward to the process, and feel confident that God will provide the means!

    • David Timms says:

      Thanks for your note, Nonda. You and your husband apparently have good conversations! 🙂 Blessings as you continue to explore the Journey and not just the destination.

  7. Lansing Molzen says:

    Wow David, so well stated. Happy to see Because of Grace back in my mailbox. It is a welcomed friend and God always uses you to help me think and evaluate me in the reflection of Him. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me to live the process and not rush to the end.
    Blessings to you for 2015.

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