What energizes you?
One of the things I like about ministry is that a pastor gets to do a variety of different things. In one day you can spend time alone studying and praying for your next Sunday’s sermon; then visit the hospital to celebrate the birth of a new baby with a family in your church; after lunch stop by the local nursing home to chat for a few minutes with a dear senior adult member; in the afternoon counsel a young couple who are planning their wedding; and, finish the day at a committee meeting where you deal with the realities of the economy and budgets.
But in the mix of all the things that pastors do, there are some things that energize me more than others. I enjoy most of the work a pastor does, but I’m energized by some of it more than others.
I believe those aspects of ministry that energize you are God’s great gift to you. Those energizing areas are different for different pastors. Some love to spend lots of time pouring over Greek texts, and exegeting scripture passages. Others believe their ministry in face-to-face settings is vital. Still others find fulfillment in hanging at the local coffee shop making friends with total strangers.
Whatever your passion, God gives you those special, energizing moments. God doesn’t give them to you so you can spend all your time doing just one thing. After all, pastors are generalists, not specialists. But God gives you the energizing moments to keep you going through the times that drain you.
In Psalm 23, God leads the sheep to the green pastures and still waters before the valley of the shadow of death. The times of energy and refreshment are to get us through the times of difficulty and despair.
Ministry has to be balanced. We do some things because we have to. Whether you’re a pastor or a postal worker, some things are have-tos. But we do a few things because we want to. For our lives to have meaning and purpose, we need those energizing moments. Those are God’s gifts to you. Enjoy them when they come.
I preached on Pentecost last Sunday as “Babel Revisited.” In that sermon I repeated the conventional thinking that God punished mankind’s attempt to build a tower to reach to the heavens. But listen to what Wendell Griffen says,
That interpretation of Genesis 11:1-9 is not fair to God. Do we really think the Creator of the universe is threatened by a municipal construction project? Are we dealing with a Being who is so insecure that a few people who put a city together and build a skyscraper get on His nerves? If God is that petty, God should not be called good and gracious, but petty and tyrannical.
Instead of reading the passage to mean that cultural diversity is divine punishment, we should understand it to show how cultural diversity is part of the great redemptive purpose of God. God is not threatened when people cooperate to construct cities and tall buildings. One story buildings and rural settings are not entitled to divine favor.
What the passage truly shows is that God wants humans to be spread throughout the world and enjoy cultural diversity without being afraid. If there is a condemnation in the passage—and I use the word if intentionally—it condemns the idea that cultural sameness is the way to salvation. We are one people because we have a common Creator, not because we speak the same language or live in the same location. Our oneness lies in who we are before God, not who we are physically related to by human ancestry and geography. God loves our diversity. God intentionally caused our diversity. God is glorified by our diversity.
— from Babel and Pentecost by Wendell Griffen
I wish I had said that. I will not think of Babel in the same way again. Griffen’s interpretation gives even more meaning to the Pentecost event, as God’s means of bringing diversity together again to send us back out into the world with God’s message of hope and salvation. Read the entire sermon here.
Judge Wendell Griffen is a former Arkansas appeals court judge; the first person of color to join a major Arkansas law firm; CEO of Griffen Strategic Consulting; pastor of New Millennium Church; professor of law at the University of Arkansas’s Bowen School of Law.