“They don’t call us any more. And the last few times we tried to get together, they had other things prioritized. Something is wrong.”
My wife and I were wondering about our friendship with this couple. It had been good to have someone with whom we could be off-duty. It seemed to us that they did not feel any need to be flossing their spiritual teeth just because they were in the company of a couple who had been appointed to take care of them. But now I felt I had to see them.
“Could I come over for a few minutes? There is something I’d like to talk with you about.”
Several years ago a young man walked up to me and asked this question: “If you were not a preacher, who would you be?” He went on to explain that his question was meant as a thought provoker. He explained that much of our identity is tied to our vocation, possessions, accomplishments and the like. My friend reminded me that we are valuable because God created us and loves us just as we are apart from our accomplishments.
All of us know this to be true. God loves us unconditionally! Love is His nature. “God is love.” (I John 4: 8) Sometimes we forget and need to be reminded of this simple truth. As I pondered my friend’s question I quickly formulated my list of things in which I seek value.
My vocation- I am a pastor. I feel affirmation in being a pastor. I must differentiate my vocation from my standing before God. I need to be reminded I will always be valuable even when I am not serving as a pastor.
After declaring everything to be meaningless, Solomon asked a piercing question: What does a man gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3)
Everyone pursues something, labors for something, works for something. And Solomon’s point was that all the labor under the sun is meaningless because there really is no gain, no profit in the end.
Do you have trouble giving thanks for some people? These people may cause you to join the Sons of Thunder in hoping God will rain down fire from Heaven. Don’t be so spiritual, you think similar thoughts! LOL!
A few weeks ago I read through I Corinthians. As Paul opens the book he gives thanks for the Corinthian believers. (1:4) As I read those words I thought to myself, “Come on God, give thanks for the Corinthians.” After all the Corinthians were marred by division, jealousy, envy, immorality, lawsuits, marriage issues, questions of Christian freedom, drunkenness, and questions about speaking in tongues. Talk about a church with problems. I might have missed a few of their issues. Giving thanks for such a group would be like giving thanks for a migraine. I was reminded of the command in I Thess. 5:18, “In everything give thanks.” So, if Paul could give thanks for the troubled church in Corinth, what can we learn from him?
Paul gave thanks for the Corinthians because he was a gracious man who had been touched by the grace of God. Though the church had issues Paul still treated them with grace. The Bible outlines the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. In that passage we are instructed to be kind, gentle and patient. In short, we are to be gracious with other people.
As I write this, I’m getting ready for a test at the hospital. Just routine, I think. Last week I went for an annual checkup and my doctor spotted a couple of areas for which she wanted more tests.
About the time I get through with these tests, a note will arrive from the dentist announcing my 6 month checkup. Right now, my car is overdue for its 3,000 mile oil change and it’s time for a tire rotation. The house needs painting and the air conditioning unit is being serviced.
Nothing about ‘maintenance’ sounds very glamorous. A friend of mine is in charge of maintenance at a chemical plant up the river, but don’t let it fool you. We’re not talking about sweeping the floors and mowing the grass. His area is keeping those massive machines and intricate processes working as they were intended.
That lovely old car you spotted on the highway still purring like a kitten after 200,000 miles functions well not because some rich guy bought it and spent a fortune overhauling it, but more than likely because its owner took good care of it from the first day. He had it serviced regularly and kept it in a garage and treated it as an investment.
Sheri, a single young woman, said to me once, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about maintenance. I’ve owned my car for a whole year and have never had an oil change or anything, and it drives like new.” I said, “Just stick around. You’ll find out.” She did.
Teams that don’t feel valued often simply go through the motions and that dampens motivation and decreases productivity. Great leaders pay keen attention to how valued their teams feel. Poor leaders seldom even think about it.
Evaluate your leadership against these five behaviors that great leaders show.
Judy and I are in the process of building a new home. This has been a time of great reflection for me. Many thoughts run through my mind. The thoughts I ponder are different than when I was younger. (I am 60.) When I was younger the excitement and adventure of such a project motivated me. As I get older, challenges such as building a house stir a different set of emotions. For instance, thoughts such as: I might not live long enough to see a 30-year mortgage paid in full! (or) Why is a sixty-year-old building a new house when we ought to be downsizing? Such thoughts are foreign to younger guys. These thoughts sound negative. However, changing thought patterns are a part of life. Stay with me, I am going somewhere with this thought.
As I focus on this new construction the thought that motivates me is not the final destination but the joy of the journey. That is what I desire to share with you. I enjoy cutting bushes, working with my hands and doing things around a construction site. The journey is a lot of fun! That should also apply in our service to Christ. Many times the journey becomes cumbersome. The speed of life, the trials of ministry and the challenges we face can steal the joy of the journey. Each day we should ask ourselves if we are enjoying the journey. If not, there should be adjustments. What kind of adjustments? I offer the following suggestions. You will probably add to your list.