Have you ever had one of those moments when, suddenly, you see things more clearly than you used to?
It seems to be happening to me rather a lot at the moment. Let me explain to you how, this is happening.
I have been reading a book called The Art of Pastoring – Ministry without all the answers by David Hansen. There are two ways of reading a book. You can rattle through it at break neck speed and tick it off the “books I have read” list. Or, as I did with this book, slowly and reflectively. As I soon discovered, I was reading this book in the way it really deserved. I have taken the opportunity, every few pages to stop and journal my reflections. I have been challenged, in ways I could not even begin to describe on paper, to re-think my approach to the way that I minister.
It has taken me nearly a month to reach chapter 4. The topic was temptation of ambition. I am not, by nature, an ambitious person. I am happy with my calling to be a local Church Pastor. I have never had the ambition to be an international speaker or celebrity pastor. I must be on safe ground with this chapter I, mistakenly, thought. It was when I read;
There is no other possible conclusion: every pastor must choose between ladder-climbing and love.
(David Hansen The Art of Pastoring – Ministry without all the answers page 76)
It was then, that I heard God whisper “you may not have been on the career ladder, but you have stood on others” that it really hit me. The temptation to stand on a ladder is subtle, so subtle that it can feel as though you are ministering
- The ladder of being observed
- The ladder of being noticed
- The ladder of being significant
- The ladder of being needed
- The ladder of being heard
Jesus was spot on when he said;
No one can serve two masters
(Matthew 6 vs. 24)
As David Hansen brilliantly puts it;
The real nub of the temptation to climb ladders is the lie, fed me by the devil, that I can climb the ladder and love those around me at the same time. It centres on me. It feeds my ego.
(page 76 – 77)
I think there is a lesson for all of us here, whether of the “dog collar” variety or not, we all have a ministry.
I cannot judge others (that would be climbing another ladder), I can only ask for the grace of God to step off the ladders I am standing on. I need to face the choice, daily, between ladder climbing and love. My prayer is that I will make the right choice, my prayer for you is that God’s grace will help you make the right choice too.