Being a Person of “Large Leisure”


This excerpt from a sermon by N. Gordon Cosby, founding minister of The Church of the Saviour in Washington D.C. reminds us that being busy and productive is not the goal of an Apprentice of Jesus:

Way down deep we know that [a] state of overload is not the way it is meant to be if we are gospel people. We have known it for a long time that it shouldn’t be this way but we haven’t been able to change. How should things be for us if we are developing and growing? Douglas Steere has stated it better than any person for me: “A saint is a person of large leisure.” By saint he means a person who is fully developed; not a saint in the halo sense, but a person who is really getting hold of it, living by the gospel—this will be a person of large leisure. Not overly busy, but with plenty of time, not wishing there was more, just grateful for the time there is and relaxing in it. Looking at our plate, if we are persons of large leisure, we can say it’s a wonderful plate. There’s not too much on it and not too little. It’s just right. Is this just wishful thinking, or can we live this way?

Consider Jesus. You don’t get the sense of his being harassed and burdened, even though his task was fairly impressive. He was to be the vindicator, the redeemer, the liberator of the whole creation. He had 33 years in which to do it, and only three public years. He simply had the task of freeing the whole created order from oppression, yet he doesn’t seem overly burdened, wondering how he will possibly get it done by bedtime. You don’t hear him talking to Abba at the end of the week, “What a crazy week! The pressures are about to do me in!” In fact, the interruptions were so relaxed that all these years later we’re still extracting wisdom from some of those encounters, like the woman at the well or his conversations with his enemies who were trying to entrap him.”

With a trans-global task and three years to accomplish it in a public ministry, he was able to say at the end, “It is finished. Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Pretty amazing. We sense in this what it is to be wholly detached and, in one sense, indifferent to anything other than centering in God, trusting God. We sense this might hold for us an antidote to being overwhelmed in life and all the responsibilities it demands of us—centeredness. We talk about centering prayer, but centering prayer is just a way toward the goal of becoming a centered person, centered in the Source. This was the centeredness that Jesus knew, connected in and to the Center.

. . . .  That’s it. Just give up control. The nature of the relationship is to enter the flow of God’s life and to have utter confidence in this One who created it all and has promised to bring it to completion. I will not be trying to find a place of significant meaning or to be strong for God. I will not try to get hold of something significant that I can accomplish for God. I will simply be in the being of God, and recognize that being is in me. Not hoping it will break in one day; it has already happened. I am IN the being of God, utterly trusting. I have nothing to pull off. I just stay connected to the eternal realm.”

Goal for 2014:  Be a person of large leisure.

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2 Responses to Being a Person of “Large Leisure”

  1. Hi, Josh,
    I love the idea of having a “wonderful plate” – with just the right amount on it. I’m finding I can get to that plate, but it has to be done intentionally, like all discipleship

  2. Josh Luton says:

    Great description of “saint.” To paraphrase a professor of mine: “Most of the bad decisions I’ve made are the result of not having enough time,” or leisure, in this case.

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