Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God Says, "Share"

In college, my roommate was in-state and I was out-of-state. She went home on weekends. I received care packages. Each time a package arrived she would chime, "God says, 'Share!'" I didn't want to. But I did--most of the time.

She was right of course. God says, "Share!" even in ministry.

How often do we take pride in being the only person to do a specific job in our local church or community? Long ago a friend shared her recipe for Scotcheroos then said, "But don't make them for church pot-lucks. That's my job."

We want to do the job well, to the best of our ability, but so easily exchange pride for humility. We begin to see ourselves as the only person who can do that job--or the only one to do it the way we want it done--and we lose sight of the purpose. God is not about the job. He's about Christlikeness: behind the coffeepot or offering plate, piano or pulpit. We count it an honor to be asked; validation to continue; imperative that we stay. But that's not biblical, nor is it right. Perhaps we've missed something in the teaching of the talents, the idea that those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much. Jesus said it. And preached it (Matthew 25). But do we get it the way He meant it? Between our pride and independent society, we have a tendency to see the individual rather than the community.

The servant who had five talents, traded them. That involved someone besides himself.

The servant who had two talents did likewise.

The servant who had one talent dug a hole in the ground (by himself) and buried it (by himself).

When the master returned, he gave an excuse which he'd thought of--by himself.

Chances are the two who increased the new, generous, and amazing gift asked around. They sought help, counsel and ideas. "A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel..." Proverbs 1:5. They interacted with others to multiply the master's wealth through investments that suited their ability to manage it. They learned from others' mistakes. They looked and thought and asked and observed. And they were rewarded for their faithfulness (Matthew 25:21,23).

Increasingly, I am learning to "Share!" when it comes to ministry. A parent has the built-in privilege of training and sharing ministry with their children at home, in the local church and community. Although it is not without struggle, children imitate their parents for better or for worse.  Shame on us if we don't capture the opportunity at hand whether it's serving together in the church nursery, preparing meals, visiting friends in nursing homes or illness, or glorifying God through music together.

What takes more time, effort and faith is to do the same with others. As we seek to serve Him (not ourselves), we will experience an outpouring of love and desire to include others in the tasks God has given us. Praying and watching, we can come alongside new riders and encourage them to climb on the seat of service. We cannot simply push them into the world, however, without  first running alongside, hand firmly on the back of the seat. Spoiler: It is more difficult to encourage someone else than to do a task than to do it ourselves. As they tip and turn we labor to breathe and keep our balance, bent awkwardly, running but bearing the weight of their spiritual struggles as part of our own. And always, always, we are dogged by pride. It's a high-risk proposition.

For my part, I've let go of the seat too early. I've failed to be patient or understanding. More often, I've continued serving in my own way, in my own niche, neglecting the calling to share and expand God's good gifts in others.

The process, the modeling of a life lived in trust and obedience, is grace. We share opportunities, blessings and struggles of life-ministry. Then, as God allows, we let loose and watch them go! Another believer is enabled to use his or her life more freely. The Master's talents have been multiplied.

Service is not the goal. Christ is. But our love for Him is evident in our love for others. May we not be so blind-sighted in our service or ministry that we lose sight of a God who says, "Share! I did."

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

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