It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Posted: May 3, 2010 in church, life

I realize fully that I have stolen the title from a Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities”.  This might not be a tale of two cities, but today certainly has been a tale of two sides of ministry.  I have yet to read “A Tale of Two Cities” but I can tell you for a fact that if two cities represented the two parts of ministry that I experienced today there is one I could live in happily all my days and one I would love to burn to the ground.

Today I had the chance to help out someone who was in a tight spot.  That is why I got into ministry, to help and care for people in need.  It is true I love to study and teach theology too, but the people are why I started doing this and continue to do this.  There is not much more fulfilling than helping out someone in their time of need, not even an Angry Whopper.  And I love me my Angry Whopper.  It can be tiring at times, but it energizes me far more than it exhausts.  That’s the kind of city I could live in for the rest of my life.

Then I had to move to another town.  Or maybe rather it came to visit me.  Whinerton, Griperville, whatever you want to call it, it’s a horrible place to have to visit, let alone live in for any amount of time.  For as great a blessing helping others is, the critical, whining, and nitpicking nature of some others is almost enough to make you want to stop going anywhere.  I am the first to admit that I have many shortcomings and things I need to improve on, but when the criticism comes over what are really very menial things it is a lot tougher to take than if someone wants to take umbrage with a real issue.  When you go to bible college or seminary they try to warn you that some people will give you a hard time, but no one and nothing can ever really prepare you for the pettiness of some.  That is a city that everyone in ministry would like wipe off the face of the map.

The very existence of one city is almost enough to keep you from trying to visit anywhere and instead just stay out of the business altogether.  If I was not sure with everything that I am that this is what I was created to do, I’m pretty sure I’d have to be committed for carrying on at times.  I always considered myself to have pretty thick skin, and that has certainly been proven to me over the past while.  I am more than willing to take instruction but I am getting even better at completely ignoring ignorance.  The real toll often is not on me though but those who love me.  I know the difficulties are far more difficult for them than they are for me.  I think it is just the natural thing in all of us that want to protect those we love.  Because I love to visit the first city, I am willing to put up with the residents of the second, but knowing that those who love me have to put up with it because of me makes it far more difficult.

In the meantime I guess all that any of us can hope for is joy in serving those in need and patience and faith in waiting for Jesus return and his finally wiping Whinerton off the map.  Then again, I really get the feeling that Jesus himself wouldn’t be a good enough pastor for some people.

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