I was attending a clergy ordination once and there was a Moment for Children during which the children of the church came down front to sit with the soon-to-be-ordained person for a story.
Candidate for Ordination: Does anyone know why we are here in church this afternoon? We were just here together this morning.
Child: Because we can worship God anytime?
CFO: No. We are here because this afternoon because I get to be a pastor today. This afternoon is about me.
Yikes. This person apparently never read The Purpose Driven Life much less Calvin’s Institutes.
Ministry is not about us. It’s not about:
- Being in charge of something.
- Standing in front of the congregation.
- Showing people how gifted we are.
- Running a popular program.
- Telling people what to do and how to do it.
- Drawing attention to ourselves.
This is true whether we are church leaders or politicians or PTA presidents. The questions we need to ask ourselves with every important action:
- Is this about fear or faithfulness?
- Is this about what’s good for me or about what’s right for the whole?
- Is this about perpetuating my power or is it about sharing power with others?
- Is this about myself or is it about my country, my community, my God?
We are in the throes of difficult days and 2020 will almost certainly be filled with anxiety and division. I get that many of us are in survival mode. But we have to trust in something bigger whether – for you – it’s God or Country or Cosmic Justice. We are called to a higher purpose.
May God bless our nation as our nation is divided and our institutions are no longer as trusted as they once were.
Although I don’t agree with everything Rick Warren or John Calvin have written, I do believe that life is not about me. And it’s not about you. The future of our world depends on understanding this.
Image is the first page of Rick Warren’s book A Purpose Driven Life.
But kudos to that kid, who has a fuller understanding than the CFO… I am not a minister (don’t even play one on TV), but even if the CFO had said something like “we’re here to recognize the start of my trying to help others as God helps us all. How do you think God helps you?” would have been better. Is anything ever all about one person?
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Lesson one on working with children: Never tell a child a courageous answer is wrong. Especially if it’s right. Lesson two: well, that’s obvious.
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And really, what was the committee in authority thinking, to pass this person to the ordination step? Wow.
Interesting post. I have just stepped away from an organization to which I have devoted much time and energy for the past 8 years. It is not a ministry but rather a local nonprofit. A new leader has come onboard, one who sees the organization all about them. That’s when I knew I was done.
That sounds like the right move at the right time. I know several people who find 7-8 years is right for them no matter what. It took a while, but I’ve learned that five years is my limit. 2-3 years to make the process work for me. then a year or two of coasting, then I’m done.