Saturday, April 18, 2009
One of the hardest things we fight against in the ministry is ourselves. I can't speak for every person called to the ministry, whether they are full time, behind the pulpit, in the mission field, teaching Sunday School, ministering to the people they work with in their secular job, or otherwise...and would like to think that there are SOME ministers out there that do not fight this battle. But every minister, man or woman, that I personally know does fight it. It is a huge battle in the War against self and it is the battle between what I want from my ministry and what GOD wants from my ministry.
This is complicated by the fact that few understand the ministry. I personally have family members that meant well when they asked if Calvin would get a promotion when he got out of Seminary. How do I explain to them that a promotion in the Ministry could consist of living in a tent in some forsaken part of the world? Or working in an inner-city church ministering to the homeless, or taking a pay cut to minister to an elderly congregation in a small church in rural Kentucky, or planting a new church and taking a secular job as well because a new congregation cannot afford to pay a pastor? A "promotion" in Ministry is not the same as a "promotion" in the secular world. GOD's agenda is not the same as ours. Moving "up" in ministry can easily be viewed as "stepping down" from a secular viewpoint.
One of the things I most admire about Joshua and Calvin is derived from one decision that each of them made.
Calvin was approached by a church a few years back. He was hesitant about moving his family and told the search committee that he would pray about it. They immediately responded that they would pay him xxx amount of $$ and said they hoped that would help him make his decision. It did help, but not in the way they planned. Their secular view of ministry helped him to know that he was not supposed to go to that church. The salary they offered was more than the both of us made at the time and he said he would never be absolutely certain if he took the job for the money or because that was where God wanted him to be.
Joshua took a pay cut and moved away from all of his friends and family to minister at Pearson. I have tremendous respect for both of these men because of their view about ministry. They want what GOD wants. Because I know this, it is easy for me to follow them.
The battle is simple...Am I doing this for God, or am I doing this for me? Is this what God wants from me to accomplish HIS agenda, or is it what I need to do to accomplish mine? Is this what is best for the KINGDOM, or is it what's best for me and my family? These are questions that go through my head every time I stand at a crossroad in my ministry. Sometimes there just isn't that much visible difference in the wide and narrow paths....or maybe I just don't want to look hard enough to see the difference.
I stood at the crossroad again yesterday afternoon, all last night and this morning. Thankfully, God, in His mercy and goodness, has grown me over the past several months and has revealed more of His character to my very soul than I ever imagined possible. So, at this crossroad I TRULY felt Him standing beside me, watching me look at both paths, and all I had to do was turn to Him and ask, "Which one, Lord? Which one do I take?"
The first path leads to (potentially) everything I could ever dream of. The opportunity to quit my "day job" and go into full time ministry, the opportunity to write a book, the opportunity to make "FLO" the next "E-Women" or "Women of Faith". This path leads to recognition, praise...being "somebody who makes a difference". This path leads to becoming someone who is "doing big things for God", making a difference in women's lives, this path leads to being "somebody". Well, it has the potential to lead to these things.
The second path leads to more of the past few years. Late nights preparing for Bible Study lessons and Sunday School Lessons. Early mornings just to find time to have a moment alone with my Savior. Answering anywhere from 10 to 50 e-mails a day from women who need prayer or who need to be redirected to their Savior, the Lover of their Soul...between preparing reports and creating graphs and spreadsheets and such for the job that pays my bills. Meeting with the Ministry team over lunch at Cracker Barrel and trying to hammer out major details of FLO while we inhale our lunch and get back to our "real jobs" within the allotted lunch hour. Typing blog posts and FLO e-mails between Saturday laundry loads, while carrying on conversations with my 4 year old about her puppy and her imaginary friend, helping my 10 year old with homework, and/or refereeing arguments between them about who gets to sit in the "big chair" and who gets to lay on the couch while they watch cartoons, making sure the new puppies don't pee pee on the carpet or chew up my shoes, and finding the remote for Calvin. In short, the second path leads to working my first love into the rest of my life.
While the first path seems to open doors and opportunities to put my first love, well... first, the second path seems to keep my first love in second place behind the rest of my life.
So, I stand at the cross road. These are my two paths, as best I can understand them. Beside me stands the One who really does know what the two paths lead to. So, this morning, after I had thought about it all night and told Him about it all night...this morning I asked Him, "Which one Lord? Which path do I take?"
My answer was simple "What did I do, Kris?"
People followed Jesus. Now, before you gasp and scream "Blasphemy!!!", I am NOT equating myself with Jesus. Believe me, I know my place and it is remarkably close to the bottom. But here's the thing, and it's pretty elementary. People followed Jesus because Jesus showed GOD to them. That's what He did, over and over and over and over again. Everything He did pointed to The Father. People knew GOD in ways they never imagined because they knew CHRIST. People's lives were changed because they came in contact with Christ.
Now Jesus is the bridge between people and God. Through Jesus, forgiveness is found, Through Jesus, hearts are healed and people are restored.
He preached the Sermon on the Mount and people followed Him afterward because He did NOT talk to them like the religious leaders. Over and over and over again, people followed Christ because He opened their eyes to the truth about their GOD...and about their relationship to HIM.
I believe with every fiber of my being that if we lead women to Christ Jesus, HE will do the same for them that HE did for the people in the Bible Stories.
So, I know which path to take....the second one. I will take the path that allows the people God has placed in my everyday life to see HIM in me. I will take the path that brings women to CHRIST because of who HE is, not because of who WE are. I will take the path that does not bring praise and recognition here and will instead wait until I stand face to face with my Creator. I would rather get a "well done" from Him than from any one here any day.