September 6 Reflections

There was one point in ministry where I felt like leadership was being too controlling; even in their relationship with me as pastor. The turning point came when an elder suggested that I needed to run each sermon series and each message by him for approval. A lot of things went through my mind, some not so charitable, but I did reply this way: I work for Jesus not for you. I am not going to run anything by you. I will run it by him, but not you. Now I did not mean that arrogantly, because if someone comes to me and wants to talk about needs in the Body and possible sermon series, I am ears wide open. But to suggest the type of control that was exhibited by the elder is affront to my original call which came from Jesus, my training and credentials, and years of experience. Because the truth is, I really do work for Jesus. So, do you. Because it is Jesus to whom we belong.

Listen to Paul as he writes to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (3:23) Or listen to Paul in Romans 14:7-8, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Or the Heidelberg Catechism in the much loved Q and A # 1, “My only comfort (source of strength) is that I am not my own but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Jesus created me uniquely. Jesus gifted me. Jesus called me into my job (as he did you). I belong to him. He asks me to work as if I am working for him, which I really am. I do not take writing sermons lightly. I talk to Jesus about it all week long. I ask him what he wants to say through me. I ask him about each task of the day. I invite him in always. For someone to suggest that I need to run things by him, really is arrogant on his part.

I think this is important as we think about work on the Labor Day weekend. Work is a God-given creative gift. Some folks have sold their souls to their job, with a sense that they are nobody without their work. The most basic truth about our lives is that we are loved by Jesus and belong to him. This is not an excuse for laziness, because we are to work with all our heart, but it is a way of knowing the limits that work can provide. Work is to be an expression of our belonging.

We are going to think about this on Sunday as we consider the life of Moses and how at one point he was over functioning in his work and running himself ragged. There is a better way…know who you belong to…what are your strengths…what are your growth areas…and where can you allow others to celebrate their gifts by using them. When we over function we allow others to under function. Passages to read and reflect upon: Exodus 18Ephesians 4:11-13; Romans 14:7-9.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn