Do you live a life of quiet elegance like an Elegant Trogon? Or do you call attention to yourself and thriving only when you receive praise?
… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Finding Quiet Elegance in a Canyon
I hiked up the trail in Madera Canyon, trying to locate the author of the beautiful birdsong pouring forth from a nearby shrubby bush. A whisper of wings caught my attention, and I glanced to my right.
A stunning green bird with a vibrant red chest perched slightly below me. He blinked his large, round eyes, and I slowly brought my camera up and checked my settings. Although I had seen and heard a few Elegant Trogons, I had never had such an amazing photo opportunity.
I studied the bird’s quiet elegance as I snapped photo after photo. His back shimmered like a peacock’s tailfeathers in the light. The grey and white of its wings and tail formed a dapper pattern. Red circling his eyes contrasted vividly with his yellow beak. His flashy colors stood out in a winter-robed forest of sycamores, junipers, and manzanitas.
Unlike other birds in the area, he didn’t burst into song. His quiet elegance spoke for itself. In the spring, Elegant Trogons utter a gruff, frog-like sound or chatter in low tones. They nest in empty tree cavities, mate for life, and both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young.
While other birds may have beautiful songs, the Elegant Trogon lives up to its name. After observing the bird for ten minutes, it quietly winged its way down the canyon.
The Elegant Trogon and Paul
Paul counseled the Thessalonians to lead a quiet life—to mind their own business and work with their hands (as opposed to expecting someone else to support them). To do what God had given them to do without fanfare, squabbling, or dissent.
How often do I content myself with a quiet life? Sometimes, I sing my own praises. Other times, I dress up or change my appearance to impress others. Worst of all, I sometimes expect others to do things when I have the capability to do things myself. I should never think myself too good to unplug a toilet or bend over and pick up a piece of trash.
But if we want to follow Paul’s counsel, and win the respect of others, we need to lead like a servant and not act like we have more value than our fellow humans. Our quiet elegance may come from natural beauty (like the Elegant Trogon’s), or it may come from a shareable talent.
God wants us to explore and develop the best version of ourselves—the marvelous creation he knit together in our mother’s womb.
What are you working on in your life right now?