Sunday, November 1, 2009

My job is to work myself out of a job

Today at BridgePoint I shared a message from Ephesians 4. The key verses were 11 & 12. Here is what they say:

"It was he who gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
to prepare God's people for works of service,
so that the body of Christ may be built up..."

As I prepared for the message I was taken back to an earlier time in my ministry when I was in KY. I was a youth pastor at a fairly good size church. God had blessed and the ministry had really grown. Each Wednesday evening we had a mid-week youth gathering we called "LIFE."

One Wednesday I was in my office gathering materials to head next door to meet with the students. As I was about to leave one of our senior adult ladies walked in to my office and asked for a minute of my time. Her name was Mrs. Nance (all my KY followers will know her well). I was really busy and asked if we could talk later, but she insisted we talk right then. She asked me to take a seat and then leaned over my desk and shared some of the most impactful words I have ever heard.

She said, "I've been watching you and I want you to know you are not doing your job." I must confess I was very offended by her statement. You see, I was working very hard and we were seeing great results. We had the largest and most successful youth program in the city. I responded by reminding her of how far we had come, all that was going on and how hard I was working. I also reminded her that before she came in I was preparing for what I believed would be another great night with the students and that in fact, I was late for that gathering.

She continued undeterred by my protest, "my Bible tells me that your job is to equip God's people to do the work. I see you doing all the work." She then leaned across my desk and with a shaky finger that had touched many a life she said, "don't steal my joy." Without another word she walked out.

I sat there at my desk, stunned. That frail 80 something year old lady had hit me right between the eyes and she was right. I had been working so hard to develop the program that I had forgotten the chief calling of my life. As a pastor my calling is to "prepare God's people for works of service." I was doing all the work but that wasn't what God wanted me to do.

As leaders of His church God wants us to, as I have often said, "work ourselves out of a job" and give our jobs away. When we do that the second part of that Ephesians passage happens, "the body of Christ," is "built up."

I will be forever grateful for Mrs. Nance who, "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), helped change the course of my ministry. She taught me what was most important. This week I was reminded again of what I need t o be doing each and every day as I serve Him.

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