In 1950, at the age of 94, playwright George Bernard Shaw broke his leg while pruning apple trees in his garden. The news shocked veterinarian James Alfred Wight, who wrote a series of books based on his life under the pen name James Herriot.

Wight happened to treat a calf at the time with a broken leg. He visited the farm, isolated the calf, and with the help of three farmers, toppled the calf on to its side. The farmers held the calf immobilized on the ground. With the vet, that meant four human faces in close contact as they huddled over the small calf.

Wight tried to break the tension. “‘Just like Bernard Shaw, eh?’ he said with a light laugh.

The farmers looked at each other. The oldest spoke up. “Who?”

“Bernard Shaw, George Bernard Shaw, you know. He’s broken his leg, too.”


“Does he live around here?” one eventually asked.

“No,” said Wight.

“‘Darrowby fellow?” another asked.

“No,” Wight replied, “I believe he spends most of his time in London.”

“London!” said all three, heads snapping up in surprise.

“He won’t be in the farming line, then?” said the oldest. “Well, no . . . he writes plays.”

The three farmers had no idea what he was talking about. “My last feeling as I drove away was not just that all fame is relative but that I would take care in future not to start talking about somebody who doesn’t live about ’ere.”

The Art of Ignoring What Doesn’t Matter Here

I’m a local church pastor. I have been given the privilege of caring for a particular congregation. It’s one of the greatest privileges of my life.

I’m also part of a larger world. I love reading theology and about issues and personalities. I read over a hundred blogs and read magazines. I have opinions about many issues that are swirling around evangelicalism and the world.

Most of my people don’t care.

They don’t care what’s happening in the church hundreds of miles away where the pastor just resigned. They aren’t following the scandal that’s just broken out across the ocean. They don’t even know the names of some of the preachers who have shaped my life most. They certainly aren’t aware of some of the theological controversies I read about on all the blogs.

There’s wisdom in not talking about issues that aren’t known and don’t matter much in your local church.

Of course, it’s important to preach God’s Word and ground people in the truth. I can and should learn from what’s going on in the wider world. But I’m not called to monitor the evangelical world in general. I’ve been entrusted with pastoral responsibilities in a particular church, and I should care most about what matters among these people in these place.

I never want people to snap up their heads like the farmers in Wight’s day. I want speak to my people about what matters most to them and what is good for their souls. The rest can wait until when I have a bit of time to read what’s going on. Until then, I’ve got other work to do.

Take Care About Talking About Things That Don’t Matter Here
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