In previous discussions I raised the issue of who we look to as our source. I can’t get past how important this issue is so my mind has thrown up various illustrations to tease it out. What else should I do with something like that, but to Blog It! So now I can foist it onto you. I pray these thought bring truth alive in your own experience.
I once read of a thriving Christian ministry which relied on hundreds of faithful back office people to process mail, take bookings and so on. A large team of ladies came in each day, often having to work back very late, struggling to get things processed, especially before a big event.
Because these were volunteers they were never remunerated or rewarded for their dedicated service. It was their choice to become servants of the ministry, whatever their personal motivation may have been. Some adored the main ministry people. Others believed that God wanted them to give their time and talents to serve that ministry. Some others were pressed by the need itself to come in and tackle the overwhelming mountain of paperwork, etc.
Now, in the case I am thinking of, the ministry came to an end, with the death of one of the leaders. Sadly the assets of the ministry were grabbed by some people who came on the scene at a late hour. Those new controllers of the ministry used the assets for their own benefit. The hundreds of faithful helpers were given nothing, despite their years of sacrificial investment into making the ministry successful.
But for the purpose of my illustration, let’s imagine that some of the ladies were kept on for another year, maybe because computerisation made it possible to function with less staff. Then, as the ministry closed, the small group who were retained were given a parting gift, say $1,000 each, for helping the ministry.
What we have now is a perfect environment for people’s hearts to be sorely tested. A sense of injustice is created. Some people will quickly become offended and resentful, even on behalf of others when they were not personally involved themselves.
Now, I’m getting close to my starting point – so stay with me. Imagine two ladies who worked together over the years and both made huge personal sacrifices to support the ministry through its most needy seasons. They are sent off with many others as the ministry is winding down. Then, a year later they both learn that the few who were kept on have just been paid several thousand dollars for their voluntary services. How do these two ladies react?
One is upset and joins with others who voice complaint to the ministry. They demand that they, too, be given something for their sacrificial input over the years. When nothing is given them, the lady becomes bitter and resentful. She stops going to her church, because her minister fails to understand her right to be upset. For the rest of her life she never again makes any contribution to a Christian ministry. She brings up her offence everywhere she goes, even to people for whom the whole thing means nothing.
The other lady quietly gets on with her life. She turns down her friend’s persistent calls to join in legal action against the ministry. She never speaks about the compensation issue, but does often speak about what a joy it has been to serve the ministry. She occasionally meets people who were touched by the ministry and she always enjoys those encounters.
When she is asked to explain why she is not bitter like many others she worked with, she simply explains that her service was for the Lord. He is her master. She never expected any reward and that gave her the joy of giving up hours and even years of her life as a gift to Him. If she were to now seek compensation she would lose the joy of having given herself to God in loving service. She would also be putting a cheap dollar value on her life and her time. She explains that she would much rather receive eternal rewards of immeasurable worth, than a few measly dollars here on earth.
By that heart attitude this woman is choosing her source to be God. Her friend chose human institutions as her source. When we look to man to meet our needs, to compensate us or to give us value, we miss the wonderful delight of being given value by God, Himself.
I am endorsed by God. I am His servant. He pays my bills. He provides my right to minister. If He needs me to minister into some context where I do not have the privilege of entry, then that is His problem. If He wants me to get a certain qualification or endorsement, then I will do it as an act of worship to Him.
Every time you are tempted to complain that man has not done for you what you hoped or expected them to do, take a moment to consider whether you are not selling yourself short and making man your highest reference point. If you choose to trust yourself to God, instead, then you can receive from God things that no man will ever be able to give you.