Becoming Less In Order To Have More
I was talking with a friend the other day about all of the things I was experiencing anew in ministry as I complete the first couple of months in my new church. My friend is a retired pastor, and a frequent confidante.
As I talked, I was aware that I was rambling on and on in excitement, but I couldn't stop myself. My friend listened patiently as I gushed about the people, the programs, missions, resources and all of the great growth potential of my new church.
When I finally came up for air, and gave him a moment to speak, he said something extremely wise. "I think that the most important growth that churches can have is in the way they reach out into their community."
He went on to say that he wished that more churches focused on growing their ministries that showed Jesus to the world, rather than spending all their energy worrying about whether they have enough.
I wanted to kick him through the phone for being so right. I also wanted to kick myself, because I know better. But then again, most of us struggle with this, don't we?
There's a reason why the advertising industry rakes in trillions of dollars every single year. They are in the business of manufacturing lack that can only be filled by more. Our culture tells you that you aren't enough, so you need more. You don't have enough, so you need more. More is where it's at, so you better get out there and get some of that more.
I read this great quote from author Ann Voskamp's newest book today:
The world is brokenhearted and full of suffering and if you listen to what life needs instead of what you need from it, you could fill the brokenness with your own brokenhearted love--and this will in turn fill you.
Jesus told his followers that "unless a grain of wheat is buried in the grown to die, it can't produce any crop." In other words, the only way to the kind of more that matters is by dying to yourself and your own need for more in order for the world to experience the kind of more that brings true life.
May you discover ways to give yourself away today and every day for the sake of the kingdom of God and for the purpose of giving life to others. May you also discover that when you give yourself away, when you die to yourself so that others may live, you will also find abundant life--life you never dreamed you could have.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.