In recent weeks the church world was again rocked by scandal. The sad thing is I could write that lead sentence about once a quarter and be right. Sometimes the scandal makes national news; often, it is more regional. Repeatedly seeing these headlines of failure makes it easy to assume the moral and ethical bankruptcy of faith in Christ. But unwritten and unheralded are those I choose to call “The Quiet Warriors.”
The quiet warriors are the women and men that live out their faith with integrity and little fanfare. Few become leaders, and most shun the spotlight. They quickly see through the cult of personality surrounding the bright lights of the faith and seek instead to simply follow Jesus in all things.
Over my years, I’ve known many quiet warriors. I’ve seen the positive and life-giving effect they imparted to others by modeling faith. But “quiet” does not mean silent. In many ways, they are like Gideon’s 300.
Gideon’s story is found in Judges, chapters six through eight. Two neighboring nations had invaded Israel with, according to the account, an army the size of a vast swarm of locust. Gideon assembled an army of over 30,000, but God said that was too many. Gideon tested his army, and it shrunk to around 20,000 – God said it was still too many. Through one more test, Gideon’s army reduced to three hundred.
Three hundred men against an uncountable foe, it wasn’t a fair fight – God was on Gideon’s side. In the dark of night, the 300 surrounded the camp. At a signal from Gideon, they broke the clay pots concealing their torches and blew their trumpets. The opposing army was thrown into confusion and ran away fighting one another. And we never hear about the 300 again or learn their names.
While the 300 faded into the background, Gideon became a national hero and a failure. One of Gideon’s last acts was to create an “ephod,” a kind of memorial statue or idol to be worshipped. Gideon’s career began by tearing down an idol, and it ended with him creating another one.
We, as a body of believers, need fewer Gideon’s and more of the quiet warriors like the three hundred. It was easy in Gideon’s time, and even more so now, for folks to fall prey to the cult of personality. Shall I name the names of our fallen idols? Those heroes of the faith which proved to have feet of clay. We do need leaders, but we need them to be cut from the same cloth as the quiet warriors. Humble women and men of integrity that are seeking to follow Jesus with an unshakable love.
Gideon had a remarkable life and miraculous experiences with God. The arc of his character changed considerably from his fearful beginnings to being one of the esteemed judges of Israel. But in the end, he too fell from his pedestal. There was a time when Gideon’s path was attractive to me. To see God’s hand doing mighty miracles and crushing the enemies of the faith in some fantastic way and winning the acclaim of others. But now, perhaps being a bit older and a bit wiser, I prefer the path of the quiet warriors. Living a life of integrity as God gives me the grace to do it, shining the light of the Gospel with little fanfare, speaking when necessary but desiring more to listen and pray with watchful expectations.
I suppose that I write this for one purpose. It is okay, and even God’s plan for folks to be those quiet warriors of the faith. So often, we feel “less than” because our experience doesn’t match some bright light. Or that our church is small while others are large. Or that we don’t seem to be effective in reaching others with the Gospel. Remember the Parable of the Talents beginning in Matthew 25:14.
In the parable, the servants are given different amounts to steward, invest, and grow. The point isn’t how much one was given or how much they returned but what they did with it. God has graced us all in some way; it is all a matter of what you do with it. That’s something the quiet warriors of the faith know well.