The Virtue of Presence

I find it can be difficult to be right here, right now.

Can you relate?

Virtues are habits of character that enable us to attain our most sacred or important goals. Jesus—the spark, the energizer, and the exemplar of the Christian tradition—has given Christians a goal: love (Mk 12:30-31). I believe Christians ought to cultivate virtues because they are the way to love: they are the character qualities that equip us and sustain us as we regularly and increasingly fulfill our human responsibility to one another.

Among many of the virtues Christians would do well to cultivate, presence is one of the most important.

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Why Christians Should Speak Less About Rights

“They can’t do that; I have a right…”

Replace “they” with an enemy, substitute the encroachment of your choice for “that”, and finish the sentence how you like. This template for a common lament can be enfleshed in myriad ways. Many of which do not seem to mirror the way of Jesus.

It’s not that Christians should not care about others’ safety, freedom, or dignity. But the language of rights, while potentially a mechanism for care and protection and respect and arguably a legal necessity, is too often co-opted by persons speaking out of a sense of entitlement, self-centeredness, and anxiety. Christians can do better.

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Why “Christian” Tells me Nothing About You

How do you know you’re a Christian?

Most obviously, you are probably a Christian if you say you are. Who am I to question your self-definition on something like this?

But many Christians do have some standards for what constitutes really being Christian. I have certainly been asked many “litmus test” questions over the years.

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On Courage and Seven Forms of Christian Cowardice

We all know fear. Our fears are crippling. Fear thwarts authenticity. Our ability to act. Our acceptance of ourselves. The quality of our listening. The good we might do. Fear is a constant and looming enemy. One antidote to fear is the virtue of courage.

Courage ought to be a conspicuous virtue in Christians. The linchpin of our faith himself is an exemplar of courage. We may not notice this when we only think of cool, confident, or even stoic Jesus, acting good with relative ease thanks to his God-powers. But when we remember that Jesus was human and likely faced the same kinds of fears that we face, the depth of his courage becomes remarkable. Jesus was really, really brave.

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Why the Virtue of Our Leaders Matters

Should Christians expect our leaders to be virtuous? Absolutely. Whether you lead our country or lead our churches, the burden of virtue ought to be placed upon you. Three reasons for this come to mind.

1. Virtues are more sustainable than promises to constituents, advocacy for causes, or stances on issues.

For one, leadership is so alluring to some that the means—even pandering promises or elaborate deception—justify the ends. Our leaders often tell us what we want to hear to secure their role, maybe even convincing themselves of what they are saying.

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