Pioneers or Settlers
Mission stories for Our Lab
I wish that I had thought of this title but if memory serves me correctly it was first used by Gerald Coates in a book of the same name, and he certainly used the phrase often.
The reality is that as we get older even those of us who have wanted to pioneer and seek out fresh lands, we opt for settling.
When I was the tender age of 19 I was part of a team of young people who were pioneers, trying to make a difference. We were saying to anyone who would listen, ‘Hey, we’re followers of the way, we’ve met a great person who is our friend and we would like to introduce you to him.’ We had found a new kingdom, and we wanted to bring it down to earth and make it a better place. We wanted to change the world. And I still do.
As is usual with people of that age, they started getting married, buying cars, having children, and worst of all, they got mortgages! When I tried to encourage them to continue of the pioneering path of excitement and challenge, to bring about change in the world, this was their response, ‘We’re married now, we have a car and a mortgage, when you get these things you will understand, you will have to settle down.’ Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Luke 14: tells story of their excuses.
I got married, I had children and much, much later, I got a mortgage and to my delight I discovered you don’t have to settle, not if you don’t want to, and not if you have excitement about the future, relish what is new and realise the best is yet come; it is still out there to be discovered. The worst enemy of better is very good! I also found you don’t have to maintain the status quo and always do what is expected. Let me demonstrate, I thought it would be good for my two month old baby, my wife Pauline and I to go out and celebrate one evening, by going out for a meal. Pauline said, ‘We can’t go out this late in the evening, surely the baby should be in bed.’ Unconvinced, I suggested we put her to bed in her carry cot and take her along, where she slept peacefully under the table. Nobody even knew she was there until she let out a loud yelp in her sleep, and made the rest of the diners jump. I know that people perhaps do this a lot now, but then it was frowned on, it was ‘just not done’.
As time moved on, I grew older but even my growing family of three children did not deter me, I still wanted to push those boundaries even though doing that doing that often involved hard work and late nights. I came home one morning at 2:30am and said hello to my drowsy wife, who did not appreciate being woken up and complained about the noise. As I climbed into bed I teased her, ‘You are getting old and boring.’ That was a big mistake! She threw back the covers, switched on the main light and started to get dressed, ‘What’s going on?’ I said. ‘We’re going out to celebrate,’ she said as she yanked me out of bed. ‘Celebrate what?’ I groaned. ‘Celebrate the fact that I am not boring!’ As we lived in London we had no difficulty at finding a place serving good food at 3:00am. But I have never again accused my wife of being a boring settler.
There is something very attractive about passion, many people lose it, become settlers. Don’t!
Scripture describes it this way, if we are a follower of the way we are in a race, and there is no point in starting a race if we don’t complete it. 1 Corinthians 9 it’s great to start, better to continue, but best to finish. Be a passionate pioneer, not a sedentary settler!
For our Lab Stories
Editor: A Brookes