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Am I Appreciated? Are You? Does it Matter if We Aren’t?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:

1  “Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. 2  “So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3  But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4  Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.   Matthew 6:1-4 (TEV)

693    It hurt you not to have been thanked for that favor. Answer me these two questions: Are you so grateful toward Christ Jesus? Did you really do that favor in the hope of being thanked for it on earth?

There is a part of us that cries out to be appreciated.

To hear someone say “thank you” seems only right, and when the thank you isn’t given, we are disappointed, even hurt.  We may wonder about their manners, question how they were raised, even harbor a bit of resentment that our hard work and sacrifice was taken for granted, even ignored.

Examining our own expectation of that “thank you” never enters our mind, does it? Do we question our desire to hear that thank you?  Or wonder if that announcement of appreciation was our motivation?   Or why its lack would cause us to be bitter and resentful?

Or as the eminent theologian Jack Sparrow was noted to say, “The problem isn’t the problem.  Your attitude about the problem is the problem.”

I think St Josemaria has an interesting point here.  Are we as appreciative for what God has done for us, as we expect others to be for what we do for them?   I am not asking this to create a guilt trip, precisely the opposite.

You see, our acts we want noticed and appreciated are actually how we show our appreciation for the work God has done for us.  This life we live, is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10.  What we want to be appreciated is the very life God planned out for us, as we’ve been recreated in Christ Jesus….a life lived in appreciation of His love.

I think as we realize this, then the appreciation of man becomes something that is nice, but not a need.  The “thank you’s” are nice, but their lack becomes less noticed, as our actions become more something we are in awe of, as we realize they are done because of the Holy Spirit….. something that is holy and not our norm.

God is working in us!  God is using us to bless others!  What an amazing thing!

He has given us a place in life, and it is making a difference in others lives!  And so our attitude changes a bit, and we begin to understand what Jesus said in Luke,

10  It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.’ “
Luke 17:10 (TEV)

What happens then, is we desire that He be praised, that He be appreciated, that He be loved… and when that happens… we are content… and thankful for the opportunity.

Praise be to our Lord!…. and thanks for reading this!

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1616-1617). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

Dang it Jim, I am a pastor/shepherd, not a teleport tech.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

36  When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 37  “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! 38  On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” Matthew 9:36-38 (MSG)

277      Practise the virtue of hope and, with God as your motive, even when you find it hard, persevere at your work and try to finish it well, convinced that those efforts of yours are not useless in the Lord’s sight. (1)

I learned last week that another one of my students in my lay ministry classes has been accepted into a seminary program.  It is a humbling thought, to realize how many guys I have taught over the years are now preparing to be ordained, or are in seminary.  Three of them will be ordained in the next 6 months, another went home before he made it.  These men all have left careers and embarked on a journey that is harrowing, that will result in being set apart for a life that will demand great sacrifice and large time investments.

Somehow, I was involved in helping them to make such a huge division.  ( Of course it might just be, hey if he can do it… we can as well!)

Not only will this vocation demand sacrifices, it will also demand patience, and the wisdom it takes to not only be patient, but to envision the benefit of patient endurance.  I put as the title of this blog, a geeky Star Trek reference.  But it is one I think both young pastors (and seminarians) and the churches they work with need to understand.

For the churches, a pastor isn’t the transporter tech, as if we can push a button and we can send you to a place where everything is perfect, and you will find happiness and health. For the pastor to help you, you have to let him do more than press a button, or say a prayer during church. Our work is by your side, helping bring Christ’s healing to your lives.  Helping give you hope, assuring you of God’s mercy and love.   You need not fear us, for unlike the transporter tech we aren’t going to hand you a red shirt and then push the button.  (That’s a geek reference – the guys in the original Star Trek who wore red – they never came back, except for Scotty)

For the pastors, you can’t shepherd at a distance, you have to be there with the sheep.  You will get dirty, your time won’t be your own, you will worry about these people.  You’re time will not be your own, you will spend many hours in study for the joy of seeing people amazed by God’s grace.  You will be in the mud of politics, you will see the human spirit broken and crushed, you will deal with self-righteousness, and people who will set themselves over God.  You will witness them determining what is good and right in their eyes, despite God calling it sin.  You will wish for that transporter/time travel button at least once a week, and phasers set to stun (and sometimes kill!) You want to help, but you have to realize, that we call it spiritual growth, spiritual development for a reason.
We have to be there, shepherds called and set in place by God.  Given this responsibility, and the work to do will demand more than we are capable of, save that God is the one empowering us, and guarding our hearts and mind, even as He does with out people.
There is a reward though, when we see them baptized, when we nourish them with Christ’s body and blood, when we see them rejoice as the incredible measure of God’s love is seen, even in part, by His people.   For our efforts aren’t useless in the Lord’s sight, for He assures the work of His word.

It is an awesome thing to see men answer the call, to see their hearts’ break, as the they go to work in the harvest and care of souls.  May many many more come…

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1129-1131). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Are pastors professional leaders, or servants? ( Evangelical Catholic XIV – plus some Luther)

 All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life. 30  But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last will be first.    Matthew 19:29-30 (CEV)

If service, in our serving. In Greek it reads διακονίαν, ἐν τῃ̂ διακονίᾳ, that is, “in ministering.” “Ministers” are all those who serve in ecclesiastical offices, such as the priest, the deacon, the subdeacon, and all who have to do with sacred rites except the administration of the Word of God, and also those who assist a teacher, as the apostle often speaks of his helpers.

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contain...

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit Liber generationis of the Gospel of Matthew. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(1)

Has this man reached a level of spiritual maturity in which his competence as a pastor and his security as a man and a Christian disciple express themselves humbly? Does he see his ministry as one of empowering in others the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on those in his pastoral charge? Does he treat those who help him implement his pastoral ministry as collaborators in the work of the Gospel, or as indentured servants? Does he foster talent, not being threatened by it?  (2)

Most pastors aren’t called to give up homes or family, in the USA even few are called to give up their lives.  But there is something that continues to grow, that goes against everything I learned in my early training, and more and more, I am finding,  in the historic church.

My Bible College drummed it into us that those in ministry are servants.  Whether they are going to be Children’s Ministers, Youth Ministers, Senior/Preaching pastors, or Missionaries – each are called to serve… each are called to lay behind our personal preferences, our wants, and yeah – even sometimes our needs, in order to reveal to people the love and mercy of Christ, and to show them how to love and be merciful to those around them.   This isn’t easy… it takes realizing that we aren’t superstars, that we are as broken, and the chief of all sinners, that God may show our people what can be done in our lives..

That’s different than the idea of professional clergy, it’s different from the times in history where the pastors and priests were looked up to as “Herr Pastor” or  the idea of the “high priest”.  (I have to admit a certain level of pleasure watching Pope Francis take this attitude on in the Catholic Church, where others have simply tolerated it – and more than a smidgen of jealousy as I consider our leaders…)

Luther reminded us that we are servants – not just those who have inherited the apostolic office, but all those who assist as helpers as well.  Weigel dreams of a priesthood as well – where we see our co-workers in ministry as our collaborators, not as our servants.  We have been called to serve them, to train them, to see them develop.   Last week, one of the men I get to assist in growing up in the ministry preached another awesome sermon.  Even more, he preached it in a place few others could go, to people that most “professionals” would discount, would see the doors closed, because it wasn’t enough.

there is something in his work, that I wish every professional pastor could learn, could observe, could emulate.  That they too could take on such a group of guys and serve them – work with them, patiently, lovingly, helping them see God, helping them see God working in their brokenness, helping them see that relationship develop…. and transform those that they work with…completely.  Then as they transform, watching them care for others.

Weigel dreams of this for his church body, he loyally suggests this is the track it is taking (and did so prior to Francis being elected.)  Luther knew it – his co-workers literally faced persecution and death – and rose up from nothingness…

I pray this for the churches and pastors I work with as well….

That we would serve… content to follow the example of Christ… and to seriously look at passages like Phil. 2:1-11, Romans 12:1-8, and 1 Corinthians 12-13……

And may we, in ways sometimes seen, and often not seen…on earth.. praise and give glory to God our Father, who sees all, as we obey His commands.

(1)  Luther, M. Luther’s Works, Vol. 25 : Lectures on Romans. Ed. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann. Luther’s Works. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1972.

(2)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 123-124). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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