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Today, I’m honored to present another guest blogger. Terri Stone is the Director of Pastoral Care at my church. I’ve had the privilege of serving with Terri over the past several years, and I’ve met few people who can connect and remember people like Terri. Today, Terri shares her current STRETCHING story with us. Enjoy!
(If you’re interested in guest posting on my blog, please drop me a comment. I’d love to connect with you.)
I’ve spent the last 11 years stretching. I should be good and warmed up; ready for anything. Serving on the ministry staff at my church has given me the opportunity to do more things and meet more people than I ever imagined I would in my lifetime. Being in the mix of a fast growing church has had me “burning the midnight oil” for a very long time. I have to be clear, though, and say that no one demanded I burn the midnight oil; I chose to burn it myself. My personality is one that needs to be busy from sunrise to sunset or I feel like a useless, lazy, non-contributing person. Crazy, I know.
I’ve had a few different jobs in my tenure at the church. I’ve seen staff members come; and I’ve seen them go off to do awesome things. I’ve been part of large outreach events, classes, small groups, Sunday services, baptisms, mission trips, and capital campaigns…and this is the short list. The thought of having enough time in the day to get everything done has been unheard of. This was the case until recently. I’m now in the job where I’m perfectly gifted to serve. I’m no longer involved in every single thing that happens at the church being pulled in a million different directions. Now my days are focused, helping people with their spiritual questions, life struggles and personal needs. I have time to think and pray, plan and strategize about how to build a new ministry from the ground up.
And while I absolutely love how I’m serving, it’s been one of the most challenging things I’ve encountered in ministry. The task list has changed. The “to do” list has become the “who list.” To say the least, this new place in ministry has me stretching in ways that I’m not used to stretching.
I think about the story, in Luke’s Gospel, of the two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha welcomes Jesus and his crew into her home where she and her sister promptly choose two different approaches to their interaction with Jesus. Martha fusses with taking care of the needs of her guests while Mary ignores all the others and all the preparations so she can hang out with Jesus. Martha complains asking Jesus to tell her sister to help. Jesus’ response is not what she expects, “Martha, Martha,”…“you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve been like that complaining sister! I’ve been busy “doing” ministry; all the while fussing about something or somebody. For someone like me, it’s strange not to have a task list a mile long of what must get done. Having more tasks than I can handle has always equaled value. But Jesus is saying there’s a better way. The better way has me stretching to be contemplative, to be quiet, to be more prayerful and to listen. In doing so, I’ll actually be better prepared to do the people things, “who list” things God has for me to do.
I think there’s a great lesson in the story for all of us. Jesus needs us to be with him first before we can really do what he has for us to do. After reading the story in Luke 10, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves. Am I serving Jesus in the right way for the right reasons? Is my busyness “for Jesus” to impress others with all I have to do? What will it take to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen so we can learn his better way for us?
Examine your service to Jesus and others. Invite him to show you what he truly desires the outcome of your time with him to be.
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