Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weakness and Decisions for the Future

This week I had to make a decision between two possibilities for future ministry. One was in a church I had ministered in before. We'd been down and spent the summer taking services there and it felt like home. The prospect played to all my strengths and giftedness. The other scared me silly. It left me thinking, this is impossible, this plays to all my weaknesses... I could fail and find myself looking for another placement in a few years time. The great thing is that both possibilities meant that my family would be looked after. In the end through the providence of God (ie My wife needing to stay more than a year in Auckland to finish her BSc) I/we settled on the harder of the two options.

Again as I try plod my way through Leonard Sweet's book "I Am A  Follower" I find that the Spirit of God was waiting to again remind me of the truth of the gospel through this trusted source, this print mentor. In his book Sweet reminds us in our leadership strength culture of the amazing truth of the gospel as Paul says to the Corinthians in response to praying that God would move a thorn from his flesh "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthian 12:9).

In one of those inserted quotes into a text that has been a feature of Sweet's books he has a quote from the "voice" that called Mother Teresa to ministry which said...

"You are I know the most incapable person, weak & sinful, but just because you are that I want to use you, for my glory! Wilt thou refuse?"

I was reminded of one of the incidents in my life which God used to call me to ordained ministry.

It had been a full and long weekend, youth group sleep over a band playing after the even service at church on the Sunday and I slept in on Monday. I got up at about 9am, although my wife says it was more like 11am, and in our kitchen was one of my wife Kris' friends, one of those Christian's that can smile and be all bubbly before they've had a cup of coffee in the morning (OK she may have been up for a while). She greeted me in her usual bubbly manner and I replied  initially as men are want to do in a monosyllabic grunt, followed by "it's my day off I don't need to be nice to you today." Which she replied to without even blinking a eye "Howard you'd make a great minister." My pride and ego kicked in and straightened up and was about to say how perceptive she was when she finished by saying "you are so flawed there is hope for the rest of us." Yes it was a God moment.

Now as I am facing another challenge I am aware that yet again God's call is to minister out of my weakness with reliance on God.

" we naturally float downstream with the flow of our strength. It takes unnatural salmon strength to swim upstream against our natural inclinations and to grow in areas where we aren't naturally "gifted". -Leonard Sweet.

Or as a wise friend of mine once said. God is not after our ability hes after our availability, it not what we've been taught it about our teachability, its not about our faith filled success its about our faithfulness.

"The prophetic call narratives of the Scriptures exhibit one consistency: those being summoned are not the predictable choices. And they don't want to take on the job. One of them at least, Moses, actually turns down the job. They don't feel qualified. They don't have a gift mix or strength set for the mission.. Whatever God calls you to do, it's going to be bigger than you are. If you can do it in your own strength, then no faith is required. If God gives you a dream or mission, then it's more than you can possibly handle, and faith is required. And when God wants to show off, God uses the weakest and humblest instrument God can find. Notice I didn't say the laziest. I said the weakest, and humblest." -Leonard Sweet

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