I am less than 48 hours from the end of my first year of theological education at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. As I’ve looked back over the year, there is one inescapable conclusion that I’ve come to – one that I believe may be far more important than anything I learned in a classroom this year.
Those of us who lead in ministry in the church of Christ will be called upon to make certain sacrifices in our lives. It’s a part of the call – we have been called not just to take up our cross and follow Christ, but to take the word unto all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Creator, the Christ, the Holy Spirit.
But there is only a certain extent to which that sacrifice should go. The inescapable conclusion I’ve reached is that no ministry has the right to ask its ministers to sacrifice those people they love. Every single one of our loved ones has been placed in our lives by God, and for a minister to sacrifice those relationships for a ministry – be it the suburban mega-church, the inner-city urban ministry, the rural congregation, or the military chaplaincy – I feel is disrespectful not only to our loved ones, but to God as well. It is almost as though we’re saying, “What I’m doing is more important than the people You have placed in my life.”
God’s arm is not too short. There is no reason why we should neglect those we love in order to engage in ministry, because God will provide.
I cannot promise that I myself will never neglect a relationship with a loved one for the sake of ministry. I am only human – it is inevitable that at some point, I will make mistakes. However, I can promise that no matter the ministry I’m engaged in, no matter where it is, no matter how much of my time it occupies, I will always do my best to make sure that the people I love know that I care about them…
…because without love, I am but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love gives meaning to the words. In God, love is a song, love is a symphony, love is the voice of ministry.