Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is ministry?

Why did I go into ministry? Why was it that I decided to make a career of working for the church? Hmmm...

Was it so I could be involved in high-stakes business negotiations? Was it so I could spend my time talking with lawyers and mitigating areas of legal exposure for the church? Was it so I could familiarize myself with the real estate market in Amsterdam? Was it so I could write employment policies and training manuals? Was it so I could keep track of time cards and vacation request forms for a moderately-sized staff team? Was it so I could answer e-mails and voice-mails and post-mails? Was it so I could spend my days in administrative oblivion?

Or was it to make an eternal difference in people's lives? Was it to serve God and others? Was it to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission: making disciples, baptizing believers, teaching the ways of God, changing the world one life at a time?

Hmmm... Well, I thought my reasons for getting into full-time ministry were more of the latter and less of the former... But during this week -- and this season of life and ministry in general -- it would be hard to prove it empirically. My time and my priorities feel like they've recently been consumed by lawyers, e-mails, contractors, phone calls, paperwork, and administrative what-not... These days my job can be a thankless job, an invisible job, an insignificant job. Frustrating, to tell you the truth.

Yet, when it really comes down to it, I feel that I am where God wants to use me, for the time being. I've been reminded of some of the last words of Jesus, spoken to his disciple Peter and recorded in John 21:15-25 -- who didn't want to fill the role that had been assigned to him, who wanted someone else's job instead, or who wanted someone else to carry out his assignment instead of him... I believe Jesus understood the frustration and entrapment that Peter was feeling in this conversation. Yet Jesus said simply and directly: "If I want (such-and-such a purpose for such-and-such a person), what is that to you? You must follow me." And that call to follow included a command to take care of God's sheep -- which I feel is a call that God has placed on my own life as well... Even if that means managing a staff team, or negotiating business transactions for the ministry, or mitigating areas of legal exposure for the church. These things may not be the reasons for which I went into ministry, but perhaps they are the very reasons for which God wants me to be in ministry this week.

And who am I to question that?


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