A little while back I was listening to a friend speak to a room full of leaders about the greatest lessons she learned while being in ministry, a message she spoke at my request, and for a moment I wish I hadn’t.
She closed out her message with her most important lesson learned, “ministry is a privilege”.
Was she serious? The 70-100 hours a week my husband puts in, paychecks that average out to minimum wage… or less, working on major holidays if they fall on a Sunday, giving and giving and giving of yourself for people who nine times out of ten don’t recognize the sacrifice or give back in return, having to be on guard and “on” at all times because heaven forbid you have a bad day or a bad attitude when things go horridly wrong, going without thank you’s or expressed appreciation, and on and on and on.
But yes, my friend, it’s a privilege. *insert eye roll and gagging noise*
I knew what she meant.
I know that being allowed to speak to groups of all size about a God who loves them with an intense, immeasurable love is an incredible privilege. I know that being a part of their salvation story that they will tell for years to come is a privilege. I even know that being allowed by God to speak on His behalf and (correctly) dissect and impart His word is a -very humbling- privilege. It’s just the other stuff that I am not so fond of. The unseen hardships that go unspoken that make ministry feel like anything BUT a privilege.
But yet, here we are.
As the weeks have rolled on, God has begun to work on my heart about this issue. Not because He needed to reassure me of our calling, but because it is so easy to grow bitter of the sacrifice. I have stared down the hall of bitterness many times, but have yet to stroll through it. I know nothing good lies at the other end.
So this time when looking down that long hall after another season of “privilege” I began to have an honest conversation with God.
And I got the answer I never expected, it is a privilege.
Serving in the body of Christ is a privilege.
Our positions, each unique, all help to make a whole embodiment of the bride that God Himself is returning for. We collectively are gifted to use our places to work together to see hope fill a dying and desperate world. That God would allow us at all to even utter His name is an honor that we take without great regard.
The very One who spoke and life itself was created, the One who causes the winds and waves to cease, the One who saw us at our darkest and called us “worthy enough”, has asked us to be a part of His family. So yea, I would say that we are all a little privileged.
Being a greeter is a privilege.
Being a children’s church worker is a privilege.
Being a church accountant is a privilege.
Being a youth leader is a privilege.
And yes, being a pastor is even a privilege.
And while I think that every person has the ability and responsibility to help the church in some way to advance the kingdom and share in the saving of many according to the great commission, it is not the only place that offers us great privilege.
Being a teacher filled with hope on a hopeless public school campus is a privilege.
Being a police officer who carries with them peace into the worst of situations is a privilege.
Being a business owner who operates out of love and not greed is a privilege.
Being a burger-flipping employee who greets customers with kindness despite their hurried lives is a privilege.
Because we can do none of these things without Christ. We need Him to have hope, peace, love, and kindness despite our circumstances. They are all fruits of the Spirit- not of ourselves.
So yes, this is our privilege.
None of us deserve to carry the very name of our Father, to be called sons and Daughters of God, to claim His inheritance, His promises, His family as our own. And yet, here we are.
Life is not easy but it is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. To not just accept this gift of salvation, but the call to help in sharing it with a generation that is lost and suffering with the unique way God has asked me to.
So yea, turns out my friend is right.
And the next time I look down that long hall again I will do my best to take a deep breath (paying close attention to self-care and not self-ignorance) so I can continue to do what God has set out before me with joy and gladness.
Because it turns out, it is a privilege.
Romans 8:14-18 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
1 John 3:1-3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Philippians 2:12-18 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.