Conviction from a Pie Chart


I am on staff of Highrock North Shore, a church in Salem, Massachusetts. I have recently begun brainstorming ways in which Highrock can invest in the college students in our community.  Over the past two years, we have had 53 college students give us their contact information.  

I held an interest meeting for all the college students to brainstorm ways we can bridge the gap between the college lifestyle and local church.  The meeting centered around six discussion questions to identify values and needs.

One of the questions was an activity requesting that each person “Create a pie chart showing the various parts of who you are (i.e. family, academics, ministry, exercise, sexuality, music, etc).”

I decided to take part with them in creating my own pie chart.  I soon realized how difficult this was to do.

There was the immediate tension of creating a pie chart reflecting who I wanted to be versus a pie chart reflecting who I actually am. 

I devoted a third of my chart to my faith:  prayer, the study of Scripture, worship, service, etc.  But I knew that these actions did not take up a third of my life.

Furthermore, as I reflected on my completed chart, I realized I devoted a quarter of my chart to academics, but only an eighth to relationships.  Really, Marcus?  That’s who you want to be?  In a moment, a pie chart convicted me of my tendency to worship the idol of academic success. 

My values (the person who I want to be) did not match up with who I actually am, and that bothered me.

Friends, God calls us into heavy, impossible commitments.  Commitments and values that we cannot own until the day we enter New Creation (have you tried obeying the Sermon on the Mount?). 

The odd thing about holiness is that God calls us to be holy even though He knows (and we know) that we cannot be holy.  Regardless of how much I pray, fast, or study Scripture, the category of “faith” will always represent a pie chart part too small.  Always. 

And that’s humbling.

John Calvin nailed it, I think, when he commented on holiness.  “Holiness is not a merit by which we can attain communion with God, but a gift of Christ, which enables us to cling to him, and to follow him.” 

It’s in these moments that I run to the true value of holiness – Christ gives us holiness. Holiness is not something which we do to earn Christ.  Holiness is our purpose in life, yes, but it is only attained through a humility before our Maker.

Our values will never line up with our actions.  But one day we will stand in New Creation, and our values will line up with our Maker’s.  

 Until that day comes, keep making pie charts.