here’s what i’m thinking this morning, for what it’s worth…
almost twenty years ago, i came to a rather severe crisis in my faith. not the kind that doubted the existence of god or some mysterious urge to walk away from the church. it was a crisis unique to my occupation.
i have been employed by the church, doing church work pretty much my entire adult life. oh, i’ve had other jobs along the way…coaching, teaching, construction, janitorial, laying tile…but for the most part, i have recieved my paychecks based on what went in to the offering plate each week.
when i was 35, wanda and i raised our missionary support and i went to work for amor ministries, taking hundreds of kids and adults into mexico on short-term service trips to build homes for the poor. on the side, we were part of a small group of people that planted a church in a poor, multi-cultural community in east san diego, near our home.
for the the first time since i was 25, i went to church on sundays just like everyone else…because i wanted to. in the early days of our church, i really began to question whether i did my “church work” the previous ten years because i was paid to…or because i really wanted to.
it was an incredible eye-opening, heart-softening five years of my life as god taught me about motivation and serving and relationships based on the concept of sharing life as a family…and began weening me off of my remaining pious attitudes of spiritual superiority because of my “position”.
i became free to set up tables and chairs before the service and play my guitar and open my home to friends and read my bible and work in the community or visit people in the hospital simply because i was a follower of christ…not because it was my job or because people expected me to. it was absolute freedom.
when we moved to texas 15 years ago, i made a vow to god that even though i was going to continue to receive my income by being a full-time church program director, bible teacher and sheep-herder, i would never do it because i was paid to. i would never do it simply because it was my job. i would never do it from a position of spiritual superiority or some advanced calling or because i thought i was any different than anybody else who called themself a follower of christ.
i am humbled beyond words that people still put money in the offering plate each sunday and because of that, i get to live and work where i do and i get to serve the kingdom the way god has wired me to do it.
even though my job and calling may be different than yours, our battle is the same: to serve and give and live our lives with integrity and healthy motives…clean hands and pure hearts.
i’ll give you another take on this later.