“My ‘self’ and my ministries”
The other evening I sat down at my computer with a selection of possible tasks before me – some pressing, others I could put off for a while. “Which ones should I tackle?” I contemplated.
As I looked over my notes and people to write to, two names stared back at me – names of Indonesian pastors we had visited recently, both of whom had gone out of their way to help us. I’d kept moving their names around on my desk for several days!! (Is there a name for that “office game”?!) I wanted sometime to write to them, but I knew it wasn’t urgent. Nor did I think they were expecting to hear from me, at least not right away.
Then it hit home – plainly and simply I was avoiding the hard work involved. I had asked God to guide me, but deep within I was unconsciously motivated to choose the more pleasant or interesting tasks, to write business e-mails, or to write to a few close friends. I was tempted to choose the less demanding tasks. I wonder how many other servants of God wrestle with this same tendency on occasions? (If you are the kind of person who just delights in tackling the most difficult items on your “to do” list, may God bless you, and please pray for the rest of us!)
So how did I, as a Christian, work through my mini-dilemma the other night? Though I don’t recall considering this point at that time, yet underlying everything I choose to do is God’s calling upon my life: to minister to people.
Being an efficient worker is important I know; working through my “to do” list slowly but surely will yield a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of a day’s work. But as a Christian and a Christian worker, nothing may be allowed to come ahead of serving people – touching others with God’s love and truth. This is what ultimately must determine my choices and my priorities.
The other factor that I believe comes into play is self-control and self-discipline. Aren’t we all prone to prefer ministries and activities that don’t require too much hard work? That gives me a nice warm “fuzzy” feeling?
But it’s my “self” that hungers to be fed with “nice feelings” and is always looking for ways to escape from the uncomfortable needs to be continually disciplined. Whereas the Spirit of God is the Spirit of self-control and self-discipline.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, but the way the Spirit works doesn’t leave us passively watching as such fruit grows on the branch. Rather He calls us to participate in the process of controlling our self-life. The Spirit urges and summons us to fight hard to gain and maintain control over our natural, self-centred inclinations that keep trying to rule over our feelings, thoughts, desires and choices.
I’m thankful that I can say that the Spirit helped me to write those two pastoral letters. And guess what? When I went to bed a couple of hours later, I even had that great sense of satisfaction that I had accomplished something really significant. And I knew that those letters encourage the two Indonesian ministers – and that in God’s eyes was the most important of all. After all, our God delights to give His people “good hope and eternal encouragement” – through you and me! (See 2 Thessalonians 2:16.)
But you should pray for me because this lesson needs a lot of practice before it is mastered! Do you agree?
Equip & Encourage International
July 12, 2003