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.