I ran across an insightful article by Chris Armstrong in an old (2008) Christianity Today on Gregory the Great (540 -604), Spirituality for Busy People. Armstrong writes that Gregory longed to be a monk and to devote himself to quiet contemplation, but felt obliged to enter the active life in service to his people after three years the monastic life (he eventually became Pope during a time of crisis). In the process, he learned how to combine the active with the contemplative life. In Armstrong’s words:
What Gregory concluded was that these two modes of life were not as mutually exclusive as the church had taught. Each strengthens the other in a never-ending cycle: the contemplative life equips us for the active life, and the active life grounds us in acts of love to our neighbors, to keep us from floating off into spiritual pride and irrelevance.
It’s an important insight for our work today.