Nehemiah 8:1-12

Photo of woman with the word joy superimposed over her by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

“Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”

Nehemiah is one of those books in the Bible that get used for “leadership” retreats and the like. It always amazes me how we can take these ancient texts and make them fit into whatever we want them to fit. Nevertheless, that's not the point.

As I meditated on this passage this morning I was struck by the closing verse about how the people went away to celebrate because they understood the Scriptures. It was striking because it challenges my understanding of my calling in the realm of preaching or communicating the Scriptures to God's people.

I have always thought of the task before me to be one of challenging God's people to consider the Scriptures in such a way that brings about life change. But, did I miss the boat? Have I missed something important in my calling?

I think perhaps I have.

Could it be that the result I ought to be hoping for is for people to experience joy?

As I grow in my faith I experience more joy. Why? Because I grasp more fully the depths of God's grace and love for me and others. Maturing in faith leads to greater love and greater love leads to greater joy.

It turns that I've not been thinking about the end of my pastoring the people who have trusted their spiritual life to me. I've only thought about the process. It's like in parenting, if I'm raising children I do things very differently than if I'm raising adults.

I want to be a pastor that is focused on building joy in the people who entrust themselves to my care.

Today I'm pondering, “Am I leading to people to joy and celebration or to something less?”


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