Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Anything Worth Doing... worth working for." - My Mama

I can't tell you how many times I heard this phrase growing up. When things would get tough, I could always count on my mom to faithfully recite it to me, reminding me that, "if it were easy, anyone could do it" (another one of her phrases).

And I believe these things are true. Not that some "easy" tasks aren't necessary, and therefore should be undertaken with devotion and commitment, but more that things that are difficult shouldn't be cast aside just because they take a little work.

But one facet of this phrase that we never really explored growing up is, is everything that is difficult really worth doing? What about things that consume us, take up an immense amount of time and energy, but - in the end - really aren't that important? And as I grow older and older, and time seems to be more and more in short supply, these are the questions I find myself pondering more and more.

For example, right now, as part of my pastoral appointment, I (ahem) get to preach every Sunday. And I will confess that this post is being written as part of my sermon preparation procrastination ritual. There are times...most every Sunday, to be honest, that I feel that my task is an awesome one (in the literal sense of the word). That, to be able to approach the Scriptures during the week on behalf of the congregation, pray for a word of good news, and deliver it artfully is a task that should not be taken lightly and a task that I am proud and honored to call mine.

But, the path to get there is not always an easy one. In fact, its sometime a burdening one. There's always a sermon to be preparing. Its like laundry or dishes...the task is never finished. As one of my professors jokes, "Sunday comes with amazing regularity". And, often times, during my sermon preparation, I wonder if its really worth it all. I know that the words that come out of my mouth on Sunday mornings are meaningful to at least a few in my congregation...the tell me so. But do they make a difference? In their private lives, in the life of the community...does what I do really matter? Is it really worth doing?

I think this is probably a question that I will revisit time and time again throughout my ministry. Maybe even weekly or daily. And while it causes me some angst, its probably a good question to ask, lest we get in a rut of doing things just because we've always done them.

But, in my case, I'll never be able to fully answer that question. The work of God comes slowly...imperceptibly at times. I have to trust that its being done, even when I can't see it or feel it. But there are little glimpses of hope along the way, like road reflectors that assure you you're still on the right path in the middle of the dark night. And, for right now, I can hang my hat on two things:

(1) I know that ministry is happening through the fact that I take the time to faithfully prepare my sermons. My congregations appreciates the preparation. Its not something they've always had, and it shows them I care about them and our church.

(2) The preparation feeds and forms me. I don't always feel it, but one of the biggest reasons that I got into the ministry is because its awesome to be paid to spend your days caring about people and reading and thinking and writing. If nothing else, I know that the time I put into grappling with the text shapes and molds me.

So, for now, that has to be enough. My work ethic and sense of commitment lead me to work hard at my ministerial tasks, and my prayer is that I will be continue to be wise enough to be able to see that they are worth doing.

And, now, back to getting this sermon on paper...

No comments: