I’ve recently finished a really interesting book – primarily aimed at church ministers – but with application for all who seek to follow Jesus. It’s called Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being – and is full of thought-provoking and challenging stuff about the nitty gritty of life in ministry. It exposes many idols in our hearts and punctures pride. Here is a quote from the final chapter which I find searches me out:
But both men revealed the same struggle – the realization that one can receive accolades for preaching Jesus, yet at the same time know very little about how to follow Jesus in the living rooms of their ordinary lives. They could communicate love to a crowd from the pulpit or in an office or a classroom, but when called upon to give themselves (and not their gifts) they were fumble prone. I see this in me.
I wondered. What does it say about the way we’re approaching the ministry if we who have been trained for it do not know how to follow Jesus when we have our pajamas on? Give us the role to play, and we know what to do. Take the role away on a day off or for good, and we stamp about restlessly. We know how to do things pastorally but struggle when asked to do them humanly.”
(Sensing Jesus, 286)
I think this is a real danger for those of us engaged in pastoral ministry and highlights the need for us to make sure we are attending to the care of our own souls – not just ministering to others. For if we can’t model what following Jesus looks like in the ‘real world’ – then how can we help and relate to our brothers and sisters in the congregation?
How do you see this tendency in your heart? What steps can we take to tackle it?