3 Posts from August 2012

A Realistic Appraisal of Serving Others

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.

—Chuck

Resources for Your Church

Strengthening God’s church is one of my lifelong passions. I know you share that passion. All of us as pastors do. It’s who we are.

To that end, I’m pleased to introduce you to Insight for Living Ministries’ new Church Resource Web page. From this page you can access excellent materials for you as a pastor, for small groups, and for your church. You’re already aware of my Pastor’s Blog. Some of the other resources include:

  • Video Insights to use in your worship services
  • Group study tools
  • Product discounts

With all our church resources in one convenient place, it’s easy to find tools that will help you encourage, educate, and lead your church more effectively.

Check out the Church Resource Web page today!

Chuck

Three Truths from Jesus about Our Obedience

Reading the words of our Savior, we need to realize the tremendous emphasis He put on obedience. As I think about appropriating Christ’s model and commands for us in the ministry, three specifics are important enough to mention.

First, obedience means personal involvement. Jesus told His disciples, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). We cannot serve our congregations in absentia or at arm’s length. It means if someone is drowning in a troubled sea, we get wet . . . we get involved. It means if someone drifts away, we don’t ignore that person or simply pray, we reach out to help and restore. Think about this. Honestly now, are you willing to get personally involved and help at least one person in need? Willingness must precede involvement.

Second, obedience requires Christlike unselfishness. He said it Himself, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:15). Let your eyes dig into those words. To pull off this concept, we’ll need to see others as Christ sees them. We’ll need to risk reaching out, giving up the luxury of staying safely cloistered in our studies. . . giving up our preferences for His. Unselfishness never comes easy.

Finally, obedience results in ultimate happiness. I love Jesus’s affirmation, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). Notice, in the final analysis, happiness comes from doing these things. Meaning what? Namely this, we have to carry it out before we can enter into the joy of serving. Just studying about it or preaching on it produces no lasting happiness. The fun comes when we roll up our sleeves, wrap the towel around our waist, and wash a few feet . . . quietly . . . graciously . . . cheerfully like Christ who was “gentle” and “humble in heart.”

Does that mean it will never backfire on us? Am I saying those with servant hearts will not get ripped off or hurt in the process? Does this promise of happiness mean we’ll be protected from suffering? No, a thousand times no! To keep everything realistic, we must face the very painful consequences. Even when we have been “gentle” and “humble in heart.”

What else can we expect? The perfect Model of obedience finished His earthly ministry hanging from a cross.

—Chuck