Do Something

I met yesterday with a candidate for ministry.  Now that I've been ordained for nearly two years, I'm expected to mentor the occasional candidate and help them develop/discern their call to ministry.  I have to admit, it is a little strange for me, nearly 30 years old, to mentor a candidate that is looking at a second career in ministry, whose children are my age, and who has more years of experience in the church than I do.  Though the experience is a little odd, it's still rewarding.

Yesterday we talked about the gifts and graces we have for ministry.  God calls EVERY person to do some sort of ministry - there are no spectators in the Kingdom of God.  For each person he calls, whether to lay ministry or ordained ministry, he equips them with certain gifts and graces to do the job.  Yesterday, I got to share again my story and how I feel that God has gifted me.

In just a few years of ministry, I've had extensive experience.  I've preached, taught, prayed, visited, built, raised money, baptized, counseled, served, moved, mentored (discipled), administered, initiated conflict, made peace, stumbled, picked others up, married, buried, and grown wiser through it all.  I can say that all most of it has been a joy and some experiences have humbled me while others have inflated my ego.  I can admit that some have crushed my spirit and brought a tear while others have energized me and put a smile on my face.

Of everything I've done in ministry, both before and after ordination, the one thing that energizes me more than anything is serving others.  Though God has gifted me in many ways, I know that God has wired me to serve.  I've been on countless mission trips as a participant and as a leader.  I've gone abroad to places like Jamaica (somebody had to do it, right?) and Honduras and I've worked for others in my own back yard.  I've led VBS lessons in English and Spanish, built and repaired homes, churches, and chicken houses, served food, and shared my faith in word and deed.

I've been gone anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.  Each time, I return home physically exhausted and sleep better than any other time.  Though my body is tired, my spirit is renewed and charged up.  In fact, when I've gone more than a year without participating in some sort of mission project, I can feel my spirit dragging behind me, begging for a change of scenery.

When I head out on mission trips, I secretly watch those who have never been on a trip before.  I watch to see how the week is affecting them - as the culture shock sets in, God's word takes on a whole new meaning for them, and they go through a transformation.  I have yet to see someone not changed by serving God and serving others.

I know that I'm wired this way.  I know that God has created me do be dependent on these sorts of experiences.  I believe it's not just me though.  I read passages like Matthew 25:31-46 and see that our lives now, as well as our lives to come, depend on how we offer life to others. 

I'll run the risk of turning off all of the Glenn Beck fans out there, but we'll call it social justice.  When we make the world a better place by helping the helpless, holding the hands of the lost, and encouraging the downtrodden, there is a justice that "rolls on like a river."  Not only are those who receive the help blessed, but those who give the help are blessed (sometimes more than those receiving it). 

Four years ago, I helped a group of students re-roof a house.  It wasn't the first time I had done that, not even the 20th time.  We worked in the Georgia heat for 3 days, tearing off three layers of old shingles, replacing decking, laying felt and carefully placing shingles.  The students took turns visiting with Ann, the woman who lived there. 

Ann was grateful for the free roof and for the company.  The first day at her home was clearly awkward for the kids - they didn't realize people were living like this in their own town and they weren't quite sure how to interact with Ann.  By the third day, each one was covered in sweat, grit, and tar and were sharing hugs with Ann as if they had known her for a lifetime.  The last night, we gathered the kids around and asked them about how the experience had changed them. 

They were hooked - not because they (the have's) had helped others (the have-not's), but because they had done something that pleased God that stretched far beyond shingles and nails.  The Spirit had moved in that week in the hearts of those students as they connected with Ann and saw a different side of someone they may have avoided before the experience.

There are still more Ann's out there than I can reach, even with that great group of students.  There are many mouths to feed, backs to clothe, hands to hold, and people to lift up.  While we see devistation in Haiti, Chile, and Turkey, we sometimes forget that there are people in our own backyard that we can help today without having to buy a plane ticket, learn a language, or go through training.  Sometimes it's as easy as dropping off dinner or calling to say a prayer.

Do something.  Too many Christians will live a lifetime without doing anything about their faith.  Too many churches are so inactive in their communities that the churches are dying with those neighborhoods.  Heed the Great Commission.  Move and see if God doesn't move you.  Make a difference in the world and see if there's not a difference in your life.


Clergy Chick said...

Great post Alex - I agree, far too many Christian limit their witness and God's work by not actively living their faith.

Kathy Lamon