The Scorecard

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There are two scorecards we can use to tally our success.

There are two scorecards we can use to tally our success.

How do you gauge how you are doing? Everyone has a scorecard. It is probably not a physical scorecard, where personal or professional progress is tracked. Most of us keep a tally of certain things that end up measuring whether we feel we are succeeding or not. We get a feeling of satisfaction or discontent from those metrics.

There are outer scorecards. Calculations are made using pedigree, place, profit, or professing principles (just professing them is sometimes enough, without keeping them.) I am not discounting what can be known about someone by some of these visible metrics. However, the exterior life can be deceiving. Not only can it be used to trick others, it is easy to trick ourselves.

The best corrective to the potential deception of an outer scorecard is an inner scorecard. An inner scorecard is the satisfaction we feel with who we are. To be clear, the inner scorecard is not about reputation. It has nothing to do with who others think we are. There is ultimately no satisfaction in the false rewards of reputation.

I see Paul outlining an outer and inner scorecard in Philippians 3:4-9. He defines an outer scorecard as “confidence in the flesh” (v.4). These were things like ethnicity (Israelite, Benjamite, Hebrew), title (Pharisee), action (persecutor), morality (by the book). At some point though, he says he crumpled up that scorecard (v.7). The new, inner scorecard he started using was simply “to be found in him” (v.9). Paul was motivated to be true to the one opinion that counts.

The inner scorecard always trumps the outer scorecard. No matter the background, how impressive the title, what we have built, or even the standards we have managed to maintain; if we don’t feel on the inside that we are lining up with the way things really are on the outside, we will never be satisfied and never receive approval from the One opinion that ultimately matters.

Title Signature Screenshot Cartoon 2015

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Deep Down Inside

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God is always doing more than meets the eye. It is easy to lose sight of the significance in our work. We rarely get to see what is happening. We get discouraged and fed up with people. So little seems to be taking effect. We see a relapse. We see the prayer request (usually a problem). We see their absence. Is anything good happening?

There is. We cannot always see what is happening. But surely God is at work in people. The majority of it is interior. Deep down inside God is at work. We are assured in 2 Corinthians 4:16 that the inner self is being renewed day by day. Ephesians 3:16 voices the Spirit strengthens the inner person. Over and over the Scriptural witness is to what is happening inside a person. I would submit that is not a figurative statement, but an actuality.

There is always more at work inside a person than outside. This is true physically. Eugene Peterson gives the image of skinning a 200-pound man and afterward still weighing 199 pounds. Place the peel of skin on the scale and it would weigh less than a pound.[1] Inside though, there are blood vessels swooshing, intestines squishing, lungs pumping, and bacteria wiggling. But that is only the physical. What about all there is that cannot be seen? There is no weight or materiality to all the songs, secrets, moods, and motivations within.

We are often blind to this interior world by all that is happening on the outside. There is irony in sight making us blind. However, we can use what we see as a signal that God is at work. Annie Dillard has a view for the way God has given the exterior world as a signal of his activity. She celebrates in conclusion to the profusion of God’s work in creation, “This, then, is the extravagant landscape of the world, given, given with pizzazz, given in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”[2] Consider the world. God has given in abundance. Gerard Manley Hopkins expresses this understanding in the lines, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God….Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”[3] The fact we can only take in a fraction of what is happening outside can be a reminder of that same gushing activity occurring inside everything too.

You must keep this front and center in your mind. More is always happening than meets the eye. God is at work deep down inside each person you interact with day-to-day. It is not by a whisker that God is saving the people you are working with. He is working an abundant, eternal salvation in them. God teems with salvation. As Paul adds to his thoughts regarding this inside renewal in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “[W]e look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” You cannot see everything that God is doing. In some cases, the unobservable is what will last forever. God’s salvation is teeming within the people you are working with, whether you see it or not.

[1] Eugene Peterson, Tell It Slant (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) 133.
[2] Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (New York: Harper & Row, 1974) 146.
[3] Gerard Manley Hopkins, Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) 128.
 

Links:

1. Analysis of God’s Grandeur
2. Annie Dillard: Seeing with Her Eyes Open
3. Eugene Peterson: Practice Resurrection

 

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