The Apostle Paul writes to the Church in the city of Thessalonica and gives them several instructions on what to believe and how to live in light of that belief. In chapter four, the section is entitled by the translators “Living to Please God.” In the middle of that section, he says that this type of life is filled with love for others. Then he adds a line that I find profoundly inspiring. He says, “…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 – NIV 2011).
He writes to “make it your ambition.” Some translations say “aspire,” and others say “desire.” When we think of someone who has ambition, we usually picture a person driven to achieve. They have a goal and will stop at nothing to accomplish their dreams.
The goal of a believer’s ambition is quite unlike others in one way; they desire to “live a quiet life.” I think to understand this statement, you must picture the opposite. Someone who lives a loud life is always trying to draw attention to themselves. They talk loudly, post everything on social media, speak of themselves frequently, and love the spotlight. Paul writes that a believer’s life is entirely different. They do things in private, no one really knows how they spend their time, and they usually step away from the stage to work behind the scenes.
Paul then gives us two follow up phrases to make sure we fully understand. He tells people to “mind your own business and work with your hands.” A person living a quiet life is not interested in gossip or possibly the latest social media updates. Instead of being curious about other people’s affairs, they throw themselves into their work and do the tasks only they can accomplish.
Occasionally, we are called upon to lead and use our gifts for God’s glory in front of others, but our primary ambition is to live a quiet life. I know this type of person will never become famous, win awards, or be the talk of the internet. But if our goal is to live a life that is pleasing to God and give you peace in your soul, then none of those things matter anyway. Perhaps Paul writes this because he is not so interested in us being known as having a life well-lived. If that is God’s desire for us, maybe it should be our goal as well.