Sunday, March 07, 2010

Doing the Lord’s Work

One of my servers came back into the kitchen during service last night and relayed the message, “Table 52 wanted me to tell you guys specifically about the brisket, “Oh my Lord!”

It told him that’s evidence that we are doing the Lord’s work.

The same was used in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle by the workers in the early twentieth century Chicago slaughterhouses to keep their sense of humor while toiling under grueling subhuman conditions. When the pace of the line was forced unbearably forward, they would chide each other, “Now we’re really doing the Lord’s Work!

I defined the Lord’s work for years as a vocation with a certain look and appearance within a dedicated organization, defined by activities of preaching, teaching, and organizing events and activities for people. We called it ministry, and its meaning was commonly understood. This language is now changing, and so is its definition.

I remember my student director in college telling stories about the days of the sixties, when his culture was clamoring for spiritual truth, and how he took a semester off from college in order to travel around to campuses, preaching and leading people to faith. This model was used as a template for countless students, myself included, who were interested in trying to make their lives count for God. “Go into ministry,” was the response standard response to that yearning. And so we did.

As a businessman now, the terms Supply and Demand are a daily part of my thinking, but I think they should also be considered by the leaders of the Church As We Know It when thinking about how to counsel young talent and their vocational direction. Is the current Demand for spiritual direction from our culture equivalent to the Supply of people who make their living from the gospel?

Will the Church of the Future be better served by fewer professionals?

As a former professional, I always felt the need to justify my existence with stories of people and how their lives were improved because of my work, and the more of these I collected and dispensed, the better I felt about having you write me that support check. Now that I make my living from another enterprise, that pressure is off, freeing me to actually enjoy both my work and my faith to a fuller extent.

I am a pastor at my core. This is my gifting, but no longer my profession. And as with any true gift, it will work itself out in whatever I do. My reflex is to know you are taken care of, and to lead you to green pastures. I can’t help it, and neither can you.

Future Pastor, your gift is not based on your office, but found deep in your soul. It will percolate up from that source wherever you find yourself, be it in a job called Pastor, or in one with a seemingly unrelated title. How many of us know a pastor who hates his life? I bet we could make a sizable list. And how much of that disdain extends from the inorganic, unsustainable design of the Office of Pastor? The Church As We Know It chews you up and spits you out, and your average pastor stays in one congregation for an average of two years before he feels the “leading of the Lord” to move someplace else.

Find what makes you alive and exercise your gift within that realm. The seeds of your fruitfulness will grow much better in that soil.

1 comment:

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