Over the years, some of which were in the very personal levels in ministry, it occurred to me how difficult ministry is. Not that this vocation stands alone. Not sure any vocation [calling to share the fullest self for the benefit of others] lacks energy and full devotion. None that I can think of.
I almost laughed when I reviewed a church’s budget that indicates the minister is charted on salary scale “to work 40 hours.” Reason for the whimsy I don’t know how ministry, effective ministry that connects the pastor to the congregation and community, is measured by the hour or minute or second.
That’s like a church considering its “wealth” by how much money it has. Wrong. The value of ministry and church’s life is measured by caring spirits that connect. Not about money, but about meaning. IT’s the voice of the heart that matters. The best churches know the difference between cost and value. They also know when the budget is the goal, the result is often compromised to the point of falling short.
We should not give to a budget, which makes the objective meeting the budget. Rather, we should give because it’s in our heart to do so. In a very real way that’s to say the cross is more important than the dollar sign.
Now. Why this visit?
Because yesterday in a full day seminar on Stewardship—with 20 churches, their clergy and laity—I saw in a very powerful way how the challenges of ministry, which are impacted by so much, not the least of which is the very community in which the church resides. Even more, with the energy, attitude, imagination and focus of the pastor, I clapped and cheered for those pastors and their members. For THEY understand ministry is not by the hour, it’s by the efforts, the time shared with others.
Not to name names. They know who they are. I HOPE they understand how much I value them, how much they taught me.
It was not of mild interest we started our seminar to share how we select a cantaloupe. As the cantaloupe got handed around, the “verdict” was offered. Everyone realized this particular cantaloupe “wasn’t ready.” However, the verdict came from many angles. Had to do with smell, softness, the tip pressed, and someone even said the best way was to shake it for the seeds rattling, a sign of readiness.
I laughed because in living, in ministry, in filling each day with value and love and caring, we are different. Very different. The same purpose, though, is to live with focus upon serving God. Live as if there’s no tomorrow. To, as a friend said recently, not die before we are dead.
I give thanks for those who met with me yesterday in San Antonio. They “get” ministry. I celebrate that and ask God to guide and empower them, whether or not they like cantaloupe.