Project People

There is a trend in humanity that has invaded the church.  I find it difficult to understand, difficult to accept.  Let me see what you think.

We are a consumer society.  We want our products now, oh yeah, right now!   We want them cheap.  And we want them packaged properly, no danger to our children, no chance of them spilling their contents on us as we rush through the drive-through, no risk.

We want people the same way.  

We don’t want them smelly.  If they have baggage, we want it dealt with and tidied up.  We want them talented, beautiful and with some pretty impressive credentials.

Excellence is what we are striving for, right.

I’m not so sure.

I think we just want the finished product.  We want people serving who we don’t have to serve.  We want ministers who don’t need ministering.  We want teachers who have no need of being taught.  We want someone with a proven track record of discipling and growing others so that we don’t have to show them the way.

And, sometimes, we want that because we don’t know the way.

Can I remind us all that none of our completed projects?  The best of us are a hopeless mess.  We shouldn’t be shocked when leaders fall.  We shouldn’t wonder why when children are abused or money is embezzled.

Humans do that!

Even with credentials and talent and beauty…

Even with hearts that love Jesus, we still fall.

Ah, but a heart that loves Jesus, one that is yielded to Him, pursuing Him, even in failure, despite the risks and lack of glitter…

He can work with that.

When to say when…

When is it ok to call it quits?  When do we get to take a break?  It can seem like a constant fight, constant struggle when you are in ministry.  You have pastors and leaders over you, leaders with you and people under you and at times your at odds with everyone.

When can we step back and reassess?  When is it good to question what you are doing?

Never, always, sometimes, I don’t know.

Let’s take a look at the battle weary soldier surrounded by the enemy, fighting for his life.  Not the time to call it quits, I think.  The temptation is certainly there.  Just give up, let them shoot you and be done with it.  But there are others around you, a purpose inside of you.  That is where you must know what you are fighting for.  This is the time to scream at yourself and in the face of fear, “MOVE OUT!  Get up, get going, fight!”

You might not know this, but one of the hardest times is when the “battle” is over and there is a time of peace.  Our purpose, our calling can seem so clear when we are fighting.  Then it all evaporates when there is a lull.  Time to take a break?  Yes.  Time to look for a new fight?  Yes.  Time to get some feeding and rest?  Yes.  Time to reassess, question, listen, get into God’s word?  Yes.  Because, as a soldier, you know the enemy will be back.  You know that it is only a matter of time.  Time to call it quits?  Please hear me.  Check your wounds.  Be honest with your brothers and sisters that hold you up.  Ministry can cut deep.  This is no place for wimpy christians.  We will get beat up and we have to have those around us who can honestly tell us when we’re to bloodied to continue.  We need bandages, ointment, stitches, breaks reset, tourniquets from time to time, people to lean on, just like any warrior would.  Know the medics in your life, and if you don’t have any, find them – be them for others.

And yes, in the end, there is a time when we pass the sword, the staff, the mantle, the fight onto those who can continue.  But let that be at the end.  Don’t see it until you’ve got no more fight to give.  Many are leaving, giving up before it is time.  Don’t.

“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.”  So the hymn says.  Live more.  Love more.  Fight more.

Don’t give up.

Retirement

Just when I think I’m getting over myself, I get hit with something else.  I’m reading in Leviticus and saw today that it was a stipulation for Priests serving in the Temple to retire by age fifty.  What, that’s ridiculous!  My inner response was incredulous, but deep down, it was fearful of God asking that of me.  Do you want me to “retire”, to not lead anymore, to not play or worship?

Understand, if God ever asks that of me, I would totally know why.  I’ve been a mess and remain a mess.

In that moment of fear, I felt His hand on me, “no son, not yet.”  

I don’t know about you.  But, if I’m eighty and can still play and dance and sing, that’s what I want to be doing.  I want people to see me on stage and know that my love for God went beyond looking cool, being a star, trying to get the girls.  And yes, all you worship leaders out there, we’ve all had some mixture of those motivations over the years, secret’s out.  When all that is laid aside, when those dreams and desires are gone and burned up, I want people to see that I, at the core of my being, was completely, certifiably, irreversibly insane for my Jesus.  I want them to know that His sacrifice is what I live for, His mission is my calling, His love is what I share.

I’m fifty-one.  And just getting started!