Top 12 Ways to Embrace the Wisdom of Stability

by Mark Votava

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After eleven years of being rooted in the place that I live in Downtown Tacoma, I am coming to see that stability is important to my humanity.  The biggest thing about stability is that it teaches me to love my neighbors.  It is not always easy to be rooted in a place when almost everything in our society is about moving on and consuming new experiences in new places.  A lot of us move from place to place every couple of years for various reasons and never give ourselves enough time staying somewhere long enough to find a sense of belonging and community.

1. Slow down

Gerald W. Schlabach writes, “In an obsessively mobile society, one wonders whether Christians can be the body of Christ together at all if we will not slow down and stay longer… and practice something like a vow of stability.  Slow down: because there is no way to discern God’s will together without commitment to sit long with one another in the first place.  A vow of stability: because it is no use discerning appropriate ways to be Christian disciples in our age if we do not embody those ways through time, testing, and the patience with one another that transform good ideas and intentions into communal practices…” 

2. Value the years together

We need years together of practicing stability in the parish to embody love, compassion and grace.  We need a shared history together throughout time to practice our discipleship with others.  We need to be put to the test by the stability we practice together as the body of Christ in everyday life.  The parish imagination will test our commitment.

3. Allow our authenticity, love and humanity to be shaped in us

The parish imagination will test our authenticity.  The parish imagination will test our love.  The parish imagination will test our humanity.  Stability will either shape us to become disciples or we will give up on our faith altogether and lead individualistic lives.

4. Do the hard work

Stability is hard work and does not come easy in a culture that has forgotten this virtue.  But the parish imagination is calling out to us for a rootedness in the place we live.

5. Become accountable to the place we live

As we practice the value of stability, we cannot live individualistically anymore.  We are encountered with a shared life with others.  We cannot escape this possibility anymore.  It is our place that we are accountable to.

6. Resist colonialism

We cannot misuse the parish if we care for it.  We cannot practice colonialism if we care for the good of others.  We cannot ignore our local context when we have a parish imagination of rootedness.

7. Have an openness to life with other people

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove says in his insightful book The Wisdom Of Stability, “Stability demands that we do the long, hard work of life with other people in the place where we are.” 

8. Count the cost

Stability will requires everything from us.  Stability will require a strength of perseverance.  Stability has deep wisdom to reveal to us in everyday life.

9. Life, identity and purpose become reimagined in us   

Stability teaches us of life with others.  Stability teaches us compassion.  Stability teaches us humility.  Stability teaches us how to love.

10. Learn relational connection

Stability teaches us relational connection.  Stability teaches us grace.  Stability teaches us simplicity.  Stability teaches us proximity.

11. Become the body of Christ together

We abandon stability at our own peril.  If the body of Christ will not practice stability it ceases to exist.  There is no body of Christ in everyday life without stability.

12. Take a relational wisdom seriously

We cannot even understand the scriptures anymore without a practice of stability.  Stability reveals a relational wisdom that cannot be found anywhere else.  We need to take the practice of stability in the place we live seriously as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

What do you think about the wisdom of stability in a mobile culture?