So what do you do when you get back from holidays?
Filing of course. As I write, I have just finished four and a half hrs of filing. Actually, completely reworking my filing system in my office. Why? It occurred to me that with a shifting of role, a changing of responsibilities and higher expectations of me, there needs to be a complete re-ordering of my filing cabinet in order to make room for the inevitable load of extra documents to be filed.
It’s worth mentioning that while doing this, my laptop was sitting on my desk, tuned in to a Chuck Swindoll you-tube channel. He happened to be preaching on authenticity and integrity. After a while, it began to feel like the man himself was in the corner of my office not preaching to me, but speaking with me.
Anyway, the first task was to re-name the 4 draws and what was to go in them. Previously the top 3 draws contained mainly youth stuff with a miscellaneous drawer at the bottom. Now however, I was going to have to condense uth@waratah stuff into one draw to free up the other three.
I decided on these 4 categories:
- Eldership and Village board
- General Church
- Financials/ other.
Content with the new structure, I printed off the labels and stuck them on the draws and then, the thought hit me.
I could stop right there and completely ignore actually re-filing everything and because I have the keys no one would notice any different.
I’ve spent 4 hrs re-filing and the cabinet looks exactly the same from the outside as it did when I first stuck on the labels. The only people who know how different the cabinet is on the inside, are me and God.
Isn’t that just like your soul?
The longer I go in ministry and now approaching a senior pastorate; the lesson that keeps pinging around in my mind is: You can slap a label on and people won’t know any different….but you and God do.
In the immediate time frame at least, no one will notice if and when you simply slap on the label of integrity without taking the time sitting with God allowing him to sift your soul.
But in the long term….disaster.
Oh, and by the way, the easiest way to slap a label on yourself is to constantly talk about it. Words like ‘Authenticity’ and ‘Integrity’ can become labels. Jesus simply commands us to follow him and just allow them to be fruit. The nice thing about the fruits of the Spirit is that God never sees the need to put those super-annoying little stickers on it.
I’m here in the office today by myself. Just like my time with God doesn’t happen with my elders around me keeping me accountable to it. In the immediate sense no one’s going to notice if I skimp on it, or just accept the labels of honor and authority that come with ministry and leadership, no one will know any different. But I will. And how could I greet even the ‘least of these’ on a Sunday morning without blushing, knowing that I would have essentially stolen from them?
Because I am a sinner, there have indeed been times that I have had to repent of laziness in the same way that I have had to repent of over-business. maintaining a balance requires constant contact with Jesus, the one who literally wrote the book on authenticity and integrity.
The whole point of taking a day out to file things is because unless I devote time to getting things in the right order, I will have an ineffective and inefficient ministry.
By now you must see the corollary I’m poking at here; It’s 100% the same when it comes to our Christian life and our effectiveness as ministers (which we all are in some way). If we do not take the time to get our inner life in the correct order, our ministry to the world is compromised.
But the reflexive is also true: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matt 5:8 MsgB)
Effectiveness is a fruit of discerning where God is working. Discerning God comes from the long hours of sitting with him letting him sift your soul.