Bird in the hand theology

14 Aug

A friend of mine recently tweeted,

Just released a “bird in hand” back to the wild. Dumb? I’ll have to take a nap b4 thinking about it. Then on to another bird in the bush.

My friend is a pastor who is currently in between ministries. One church was interested in him serving as their executive pastor. While it matched his skills and experience, it did not match his passion and direction. It was structured in such a way to make it extremely difficult to succeed. Some of his advisors said, “You need a job. Take the job. It’s a sure thing.” Others suggested, “While you could do it and be successful, I’m not sure you will be satisfied. I think you’d be more fulfilled as a senior pastor.” Hence his tweet. He said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to a sure job offer and instead started to fill out another application for a senior pastor position.

His tweet got me thinking about “bird in the hand” theology. We often counsel people to take the sure thing, the risk free approach, the guaranteed path, the most convenient, the one of least resistance. So what if there might be two birds in the bush. Who cares if those birds might be brighter and bigger? You’ve already got one bird in your hand. Don’t be greedy. Settle for what you already have. Take the easy way. Don’t take a chance. After all, the ones in the bush might not be there at all.

While bird in the hand theology is normal equipment for everyone born in the human race, it flies in the face of how God has called us to live. Doesn’t Christ promise that if we leave father or mother for the sake of the kingdom we will receive back many times over (Matthew 19:29)? Doesn’t Paul call us to walk by faith rather than by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)? Isn’t Hebrews 11 packed with the lives of those who rejected the bird in their hand and who reached out for the ones in the bush?

Bird in the hand theology is counter cultural to how God has called us to live. Holding on to the bird in our hand and forsaking the two in the bush means we sometimes settle for the good rather than waiting for the best. It means we rely on what is easy rather than asking God for the strength to do what is harder, namely, trusting him for the best.

How often do I settle for the good rather than pursue the best? How often do I painstakingly hold on to, caress, and protect the bird in my hand rather than take a chance on the two, three, or dozens more in the bush? How often do I not even ask, “God, what would honor you more? What do you want me to do? How can I trust you today?”

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Posted by on August 14, 2010 in Character, Culture, Personal growth, Scripture


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