Skip to main content

loving the job (again)



I was driving on the way to a church meeting last Sunday when I felt something strange - excitement!!  It had been quite a while since I had felt anticipation in coming to a church meeting.  Lately, it was usually a sense of obligation - a burden I had to carry, a task to accomplish. For me, Sundays include getting there early, setting up, making sure the powerpoint is assembled and the projector/computer working, often helping with worship music, sometimes giving the talk, praying, greeting visitors, and then packing up and locking up.  Sigh of relief!  Yes, I hate to admit it, but for the last little while, I have not looked forward to church gatherings.  So, when I felt a mini sparkler in my stomach last Sunday, it was a pleasant surprise. 

The change actually began a week before that while I was giving a talk in the Sunday gathering.  First, you should know that none of us are paid for pastoral work in our church group.  All leadership positions are voluntary, so anyone who speaks or leads the music or organises an event, does so in addition to their day job.  This means that we try to share the load and, as much as we can, do church together.  People do help in many ways, but the speaking and set-up falls mostly to Dean and myself.  I am always asking people if they want to take a turn, but not many jump at the chance.  And without fully realizing it, I was starting to resent this.

Last week, while I was speaking to the assembled saints on the topic of accurate worship (see blogpost here), I believe that God spoke to me.  Basically, he said, "Stop trying to give it away.  This is what I have given you to do.  Teach!"  I knew it was true.  This is my task - to try to bring clarity to the journey of faith and love and offer opportunites for others to learn and grow.  It is meant to be a joyful responsibility, not a tiresome burden.  And I had been trying to shove it off on others just because I was weary.  In response to that still, small voice, I decided to change my attitude.  Yes, joyful responsibility, you are mine!

Sometimes I don't like working out.  Sometimes I don't like studying.  Sometimes I don't like writing.  Sometimes I don't like reading (yes, it's true, especially if it is a rather dense philosophy text).  But I do it (and keep doing it) because it is good for my body and mind and soul.  As well, the result or goal is always so much greater than I see at present.  Yes, it is my joyful responsibility to develop the gifts I have been given and embrace the opportunities that come my way.  Of course there are days when I am tired, sick, brain-dead, overloaded, and a bit stressed out.  Everyone has days like those.  But those days should be the exception, not the general mood of my life.  I can whine about the tasks in my life (ugh, not another workout! not another lesson to prepare!) or I can tackle them with joy, knowing that not only am I benefiting from the process, but I am serving others well by embracing the task.

I  get to teach!  I get to prepare lessons!  I get to read a lot!  I get to workout my body!  I get to engage with students!  I get to talk about Jesus to others!  I get to pray for others!  I get to set-up a room so that  people have places to sit!  I get to prepare presentations that help everyone access the material!  I get to write about the things that matter to me!  I am blessed with joyful responsibilities!  

the photo:  the picture on my calendar for the month of January, hanging right above my desk.

Comments

Josh Hopping said…
Yaaa!! Praise the Lord! It is good to love one's job again. =D

To get to, not have to... powerful thoughts.
Matte Downey said…
Thanks, Josh.

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

theology from the margins: God of Hagar

Our contexts have major implications for how we live our lives and engage with our world, that much is obvious. However, we sometimes overlook how much they inform our concepts of God. For those of us occupying the central or dominant demographic in society, we often associate God with power and truth. As a result, our theology is characterized by confidence, certainty, and an expectation that others should be accommodating. For those of us living on the margins of society, our sense of belonging stranded in ambiguity, God is seen as an advocate for the powerless. Our theology leans more toward inclusivity, and we talk less about divine holiness and righteousness and more about a God who suffers. On the margins, the priority is merciful and just action, not correct beliefs. 
There are significant theological incongruences between Christians who occupy the mainstream segment of society and those who exist on the margins. The world of theology has been dominated by Western male thought…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…