We Americans like things to be logical and fair. We not only like that, we operate our lives on that basis. Logic and fairness are major priorities in our society.
Meaning this: if I do what is right, good will come to me, and if I do what is wrong, bad things will happen to me. Right brings rewards . . . wrong brings consequences. That’s a very logical and fair axiom of life, but there’s only one problem with it. It isn’t always true. Life doesn’t work out quite that neatly.
Ministry is part of life.
There isn’t a pastor reading these words who hasn’t had the tables turned. All of us have had the unhappy and unfortunate experience of doing what is right, after which we suffered for it. And we have also done some things that were wrong without being punished. The latter, we can handle rather easily . . . but the former is a huge pill to swallow.
I don’t find it a nagging problem, for example, to drive 75 miles an hour on the highway and get away with it. Normally, I don’t lie awake through the night feeling badly because an officer failed to give me a ticket for driving five miles an hour above the limit—even though, in all fairness, I deserved one. But you let one of those guys ticket me when I have done nothing wrong, and frankly, I’m fit to be tied! And so are you. We hate being ripped off. Consequences belong to wrong actions. When they attach themselves to right actions, we struggle with resentment and anger.
I wish I could say that the only place such things happen is in our driving, but I cannot. They also happen in our serving in ministry.