Starting a new year is, for many of us, an opportunity to take stock and make new commitments or set new goals. As 2017 rolled in, I was frankly feeling a bit stuck in terms of clarity of vision and passion for the work to which the Lord and the church have called me. Then two things happened that helped bring focus.
First, one of our colleagues shared with me, as she does each year, her own articulation of annual goals and her preaching calendar for the year. As I read through these items, my heart was once again burdened with longing for the joy of parish ministry. I’ve said it before, but the work of a local pastor is the best of possibilities in service to Christ and the church. My assignment is not parish ministry, at least not in the sense that I knew it for twenty-five years. So, I confess that I began to feel a little sorry for myself.
Then the second thing happened. I was reminded of John Wesley’s Covenant Service, which I offered to my congregation at the beginning of each new year. This year I was arrested by these words: “Let him appoint you to your work. Christ has many services to be done; some are more easy and honorable, others more difficult and menial.” The truth is, there were times when I found parish ministry to be difficult and menial as well. The heart of our calling, for all of us, is also expressed as the covenant prayer continues, “Make us what you will, Lord, and send us where we are to go. Let us be vessels of silver or gold, or vessels of wood or stone; so long as we are vessels of honor, we are content.”
Days of wishing for something else are inevitable, but they need not define our sense of value or effective ministry.
As we continue in the Christian year toward Lent, let us invite the Holy Spirit to awaken in us a fresh sense of passion for the very assignments in which we find ourselves by the grace of God. Days of wishing for something else are inevitable, but they need not define our sense of value or effective ministry. As we faithfully respond with obedience to the sending of the Spirit to whatever and wherever God designs, we are doing good work, and we open ourselves by grace to the joy of bearing the yoke with Jesus. As you serve the Lord this year where God has placed you, may your joy increase, and may the peace of Christ reign in your heart.