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Monday, October 14, 2013

Wisdom for Anyone Who Ministers to Others

In the Protestant tradition, we speak of the "priesthood of all believers." By that, we mean that everyone has the amazing and wonderful duty to follow the two great commandments of Jesus, to love God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (neighbor = everyone, especially those who need your help whom it is within your power to help). We are also to spread the good news of the Bible and Jesus everywhere.

Now, the challenge of this model is that you end up with vastly different interpretations of what is meant and vastly different ideas on how best to complete the personal mission. Some approaches have been quite harmful to others, and if you have been subjected to such, I apologize personally for your wounds.

Here is some wonderful guidance in completing that mission successfully:

First, a little perspective on your screw ups (we all make them, we are human, it's what we do):
[God says] "Get over yourself! You make mistakes like everyone else does." Or "Everyone else makes mistakes, too, just like you. --James Martin, SJ, Between Heaven and Mirth, p. 202
Here's a humbling little bit of useful perspective for members of the "priesthood of all believers" and everyone else:
Unplanned occurrences are reminders to check your tendency to think that you're the one in control. In reality, it's someone else.  --James Martin, SJ, Between Heaven and Mirth, p. 203

Lighten up ministers, you're not in this alone:
... in ministry, no matter how hard you work, ultimately it's God's work, not yours. All this puts our work in perspective. ... You are not God. And if you forget this, God will remind you. So we need to lighten up about life and ministries. Not that our work and family and religious lives are not important. But we're ultimately not the one who brings about results. --James Martin, SJ, Between Heaven and Mirth, p. 205

The joy of communicating joyfully:
As the story of Jesus is declared in Luke 2:10-11 to be “good news of great joy for all people,” Christians evangelists really should provide a joyful witness to the world. Years ago I donned grease paint, a crazy quilt outfit, and hit the boards as “Joyful Noise,” a Christian clown. Using a “joyful witness,” integral to the very definition of evangelism according to American Baptist Churches USA, I was able to invite people to accept the messages of God’s love and Jesus’ redemption while we laughed together, sharing the joy I feel in my faith. ... the New Testament is filled with joyful messages of God’s redemptive love and the Gospel of John states that joy is complete and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, through whom we find the joy we all seek. The parables of the lost coin, lost sheep, and prodigal son all speak powerfully of the joy felt in heaven over the return of one lost soul. The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah speaks of God’s joy in humanity in 3:17, “…he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Further, Psalm 16:11 boldly declares, “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Communicating joy, and joyfully communicating, should be integral to evangelical witness in the twenty-first century. --Jeffrey B. Snyder, "Joy in Evangelism." 

So, all you ministers of all sorts, remember the basics:

  1. Get over yourselves ... [I mean that in the kindest possible way]
  2. Remember who is in charge.
  3. Leave the results to the one who IS in charge.
  4. Communicate the joyful message with ... joy!  


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