Is “The Work” Ever Done?

ImageI have lots of minister-type friends and acquaintances who bless my life daily with their words and examples of passion and dedication to an iceberg-style calling. Just as 90% of an iceberg floats invisibly underwater, so most of a minister’s work occurs invisibly — in living rooms and coffee shops, at hospitals and funeral homes, on cell phones and late-night emergency calls.

Recent encounters with two of those friends caused a “Light Bulb!” moment in my head.

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Minister One pointed out that my own position is sort of… well, not quite UNIQUE but definitely uncommon. I’m not a professional/vocational/{insert buzzword here} minister, but I know lots of them and we have lots of conversations. I speak their language, shaped by centuries of theological writing and the jargon of different movements within the church rubbing up against each other. But I also speak the language of my friends and neighbors and coworkers whose lives and work are often just as invisible, just as frustrating, but not quite as deceptively fishbowl-esque.

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So… if I ever get back around to blogging, I think one area where I’d like to focus is on encouragement and enlightenment between the two groups between whom I live. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere that hurts both ministers and their fellow believers, and if I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to help close a bit of that, I want to grasp it with both hands!

And that’s where Minister Two (remember my light-bulb moment?) stirred me up. He asked:

“Do you ever have a time when you can sit back and feel like you have finished for the day/week?”

His question was mostly directed towards other ministers, who wrestle constantly with the ever-changing demands of their work. Rarely do they have one of those beautiful things we employees call a “job description.” Often they’re ground up amid conflicting expectations — whether those expectations come from church leaders, church members, or the haunting voice between their ears.

  • Why’s there no paper in the copier? What does that minister do, anyway?
  • The Apostle Paul never took a vacation! What does that minister do, anyway?
  • Why wasn’t he in the office when I called? What does that minister do,anyway?

Meanwhile, in the minister’s head…

  • How do I build a sermon that will encourage 200 different people in all different situations?
  • How on earth will I make all the visits I need to make this week?
  • Do my kids even remember what I look like except when I’m in the pulpit?

Obviously, this is just a thumbnail sketch blended with a bit (a tiny bit, truly) of hyperbole to make the disconnect stand out. Most people share these same frustrations about time and availability and time management, in diverse ways that fit our own walks of life. So here’s the little bit of wisdom I was able to share:

The refusal to sacrifice family time for non-essential work business will pay great dividends in the long run, not just in your own family life but also in the lives of those around you. Your example refuses to let them live in the mindset of “Well, isn’t that someone else’s job?” I get Elijah-style frantic sometimes… I work a full-time secular job, teach classes, occasionally preach and counsel and write, etc. Some of the wisdom that has been shared with me is:

  • I’m not called to *accomplish* the mission, but to *participate in* the mission
  • If it is *truly* more blessed to give than to receive, being a workaholic is in effect stealing blessings from other people in that I’m gobbling up opportunities for others to give.
  • “Who am I to judge another’s servant?” That’s my response to the voice in my head that accuses me of laziness any time I take a deep breath and stretch out for a little while. I can only act on the wisdom revealed to me, take honest self-evaluations every once in a while, and trust in the Righteous Judge who is my Father.

So no, the work is never done, but Sabbath existed as a blessing to the Creation long before it became a religious/legal obligation. Honor it, and let it honor you.

in HIS love,

nick

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About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 3 October, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree about your unique place. I look forward to your continuing “bridge” ministry between two groups that can often talk past one another.

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