Tonight, I was trying to write my lecture for my CBS class, and it was like I was writing through mud. I’ve learned that I can’t rush the lecture process (a blog post for another day!), so I put aside my planned three point lecture and picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while called The Imperfect Pastor.
Seeing as how I’m a woman, and obviously not called to the pastoral ministry, you might be wondering why I would pick up such a book. It was the subtitle and some of the reviews that convinced me that I needed to read it. The subtitle is “Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus.” I’m convinced that God has been trying to teach me temperance over the past couple of years, so reading a book about “discovering joy in our limitations” is all about where I’m at in life.
I also grew up as a youth minister’s daughter, and my husband is heavily involved in ministry, so I have all the requisite cynicism and baggage about what ministry entails.
So far, only a chapter into the book, the book is a balm and a lifeline into how life feels and how soul sucking ministry can be as we imperfect humans thwart ministry with our own desires. We find that in ministry we retain the same imperfect human desires for fame, prestige and the pride of life, along with the lust for power and the horrible desire to be imperfect and to “change the world.”
However, there was one sentence I read that completely undid me. It was this one.
Many of us are confused about what it means to have true joy if we have to embrace a delayed gratification amid the slower speeds required by the things that matter most to Jesus.
Some of us go into ministry roles wanting “the word” to be elevated, evangelism to be front and center, and we forget the brokenness of the people we serve. We can’t have true joy because we are impatient. We forget that we got into ministry to serve people, and we are more worried about writing the best lectures, sounding smart, and gaining praise from people than the actual service that drew us in.
Another line from the book that really spoke to me was in a gentle discussion that Eswine had over the passage in Mark chapter 10 where Jesus is discussing those who want to be great in the kingdom. In verses 43-45, Jesus says, “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” As Eswine discusses this passage, he says:
Servants give their days to small, mostly overlooked tasks over long periods of time with no accolade.
I am so selfish that I can not even delay my need for gratification enough to perform tasks as a servant. I want the praise and the reward now. It’s not enough to wait for my Father to see and reward me for my service. I want my reward from people too!
I pray to be more like Him and to be able to serve without expecting in return. I pray to be better at giving, not just to those that I teach, but also to my family and to those who I am in relationship with as friends or mentors. I hate that so much of my desire to serve is stolen by my desire to be praised and to be noticed for what I do. Instead, I pray that I will do everything for the glory of God, and not to be a pleaser of men.