Psalm 50:1-6; 1 Kings 14:1-18; 1 Timothy 1:12-20

a road between ditches

I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were violence and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

For some of us pastors this is something we need to be reminded of regularly. I know I do.

There are two ditches that I find on either side of me as I consider my calling. On the one side is whining. Often, when I meet with colleagues there is a corporate time of whining about our calling and congregations. It's like Mr. Costanza's Festivus comes to church. There is a temptation to fall into a bit of despondency because our callings are related to people. People are never finished and people are always messy. When you never have closure you can get frustrated. This is part of the reason that Eugene Peterson would read The Brothers Karamazov every year. He needed a reminder that people's lives are fascinating.

The other ditch is one of arrogant power. We pastors can develop a bit of a god-complex. There is this sense that we speak for God to God's people and therefore the people ought to obey us. This, unchecked, will of course lead us to a place of spiritual abuse. We often hold our authority over people. When this happens it is ugly and causes serious harm.

Paul had the answer to staying between these two ditches. That is, in a word, gratitude.

Pastors, in my opinion, have the greatest job in the world. We get the opportunity to be part of the life of people. There is a presence we get to have as they learn to live the life of faith. We walk alongside them during the overwhelming joys of weddings and births. We also get to hold people's hands and put our arms around their shoulders during the painful times of their lives. We are always there in the background of their lives.

A simple presence during the good, the bad, and the mundane.

This is a beautiful thing that we are called to.

This calling is all grace.

None of us deserve it.

Each of us called to serve as ministers of the gospel do so by the gracious working of God through Christ.

What an honor! What a responsibility! What an absolute joy!

All by grace.

Oh, that I would consistently see my calling through the lens of gratitude. I need to continue learn this valuable lesson that Paul teaches Timothy here.


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