Devotional for Church Officers and Other Professed Followers of Jesus
First Meeting of 2017
Having been around the horn a lot during my tenure in whatever it is that I do, I’ll confess my least favorite time of the year is from the first Sunday after Thanksgiving until the first Monday after Easter; and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it means you’re not one of the reasons why those seasons aren’t the brightest pour moi.
Let’s just say euphemistically that there’s too much drama around those times of year; and because I take my call more seriously than some others in the business, especially the John 14 part, my cup overflows around then.
So I wasn’t thrilled to hear that no one signed up for the devotional for our first officers’ meeting of the year.
Besides, nobody really pays too much attention to what I say or write or I’d really enjoy Christmas and Easter a lot more; and, moretheless, I like to listen to what God is saying through others and really like those devotionals that I’m not leading at meetings of officers, clergy, and others.
Anyway, here’s my devotional text: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves…Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (see Philippians 2).
There’s a lot in there; yet I think – and I may be wrong – the big thing that God is trying to impress upon people who say they’re praying and trying to love Jesus by loving like Jesus is that Christians, a word or description or profession not to be taken lightly or thrown on those who really don’t get it/Him, are supposed to model Someone better.
Again, there’s a lot in there and you can wrap yourself around it in a Psalm 1 kinda way if you’re up for it; but some things came to my mind about modeling Someone better as I read that text…and they’re - I think yet may be wrong - especially true for people who do what I do or accept other offices in the church or say they’re followers of Jesus.
1. Nobody but God knows everything; which means it’s better to admit it rather than act like a holier-than-thou/Thou-know-it-all and stay teachable.
2. If you’ve got to pant and pout to make a point, you’re probably wrong. Some nuns taught this to me: “If you’re right, you don’t have to argue. If you’re wrong, you can’t afford to argue.” People who like to argue or argue a lot betray their lack of confidence in what they’re arguing about. If you don’t want people to pick-up-their-marbles-and-run-away-when-they-don’t-get-their-my-way-or-the-highway, then you better model Someone different for them.
3. It’s wise to begin campaigns by saying, “I may be wrong but here’s what I think…” You may be wrong! Sorry to burst the bubble! It’s taken a long time but I try to say this when making a point, “I may be wrong but here’s what I think; and if you can show me how I’m wrong by Jesus, the Bible, and common sense, I will confess my error, pray and try to repent, and ask your forgiveness.”
4. Remember some wisdom from Eugene, “You don’t have to motivate Christians. They’re already motivated.” Or as Holtz revealed, “I never motivated players. I recruited motivated players.”
5. Jerry Kirk taught this lesson to me: “I don’t expect anything from people who don’t love Jesus; but I expect people who say they love Jesus to pray and work to prove it.” Let me put it another way. Believers expect nothing from posers. Believers only expect more than less fidelity from authentics.
6. Shepherds don’t follow sheep. If you want the sheep to do something, lead the way! Also, remember you’re not an officer or clergywoman/man to represent the opinions of people when you meet. You’re called and ordained to honor God as God has revealed Himself in Jesus by the book.
7. Picking up on that last one, don’t expect people to worship regularly, attend Sunday School, send children to Midweek and VBS and youth group and Confirmation Class, tithe, volunteer, forgive, reconcile, show up for stuff, and not act so miserably and cranky and contentious if you’re not modeling Someone better. It’s worth repeating. Don’t expect people to model Someone better if you’re not!
Finally, to drop a name, Lloyd Ogilvie, former pastor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Hollywood before becoming Chaplain of the United States of America Senate, told me how he cooperated with our Lord in the transforming of church officers and clergy into modeling Someone better.
He began each meeting around the sacrament of Holy Communion.
He discouraged people from opening their mouths at meetings if they had not been to worship and experienced the sacrament before meetings; recalling Dr. Macleod who often said something in seminary that I’m only beginning to grasp, “We get Jesus better during Holy Communion.”
Lloyd said it’s hard for people to be jerks during meetings and anywhere else if they begin at the table with Jesus and each other and focus on Him so they can filter everything in their meetings and lives through Him for Him.
O.K., that’s the devotional.
Blessings and Love!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Bob, I have never unsubscribed to your e-mails since you started sending when I was an elder 3 yrs. ago, also served on our discernment committee and had lunch at the same table at a PCUSA presbytery meeting some time ago. I must admit I don't always get to read each one but when I do I enjoy your humor and understand at least some of what pastors go through! I know that you and Pastor Chuck are covenant pastors and how important you are to each other. I pray for him regularly as I can imagine some of what you guys go through. I am a retired teacher and we are subjected to some of this as well. I shall pray for you as well and wish you well and a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Blessings
Recently, I have somehow stumbled onto a bit of wonder. It consists of three words that have changed my life for the better. And here, faithful friends, are those words:
I don't know.
Now before you get upset by their unremarkable quality, their lack of faux Latin, or mumbo jumbo-ness, I ask you to try a little experiment. Say the following out loud:
"I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know how long I will live. I don't know how my smart phone works. I don't know how my body works. I don't know how pretty much anything works. I don't know how I got here. I don't know where I’m headed. I don't know what I don't know. I don't know why I'm doing this, considering how unlikely it is that I know anything of consequence."
Okay, well done! Now that we've established our mutual lack of knowing, a vacuum of sorts has been created. And what do we all know about vacuums? Nature abhors them. So it stands to reason that something or someone will rush in to fill that vacuum. And someone does. I don't know how He does it. I just know it's Him. And love.
My Facebook status this morning: “If you’re right, you don’t have to argue. If you’re wrong, you can’t afford to argue.” -Stolen from Bob Kopp who stole it from some nuns
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