Contentment in the Ministry

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

You won’t like every person or every situation you have to work with. But God is committed to making every detail worthwhile.

In one of the strangest comments of his entire earthly ministry, in Matthew 11, Jesus said: “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’”

Have you ever watched 7- and 8-year-olds playing together? The first 50% of the time is spent setting up What We’re Going To Play: “Okay, you be the brother, I’ll be the sister, Vinnie is the dad, and Erica is the mom, okay? Let’s pretend the dad dies in the war, okay? And then I’ll say Please let me have a puppy, and my mom says no way, okay? And …”

Set-up takes 50% of playtime. Then they start to enact it. This — actually playing — represents perhaps 10% of playtime. But then someone inevitably begins ad-libbing. That’s when you hear, “No! No! You’re not supposed to do that!”

And the final 40% of the playtime is spent in arguing about whether Natalie did it right or Kristofer did it wrong, and it ends up with everybody sticking out their lower lip and marching off, muttering about what the other kids did to ruin the game. “If this isn’t exactly the way I want it to be, then I’m not playing!”

Jesus is painting a similar picture. The story he tells is: Some neighborhood children have toy flutes; they say, “We’ll play Yankee Doodle, and you be the patriots … you’re taking a break from the war, you’re happy, you’re dancing … then the British come and kill your wives and children, and we’ll play a sad song, and you’re all sad…. No! No! First the happy part! Then the sad part! You’re doing it all wrong! If you’re not going to play right, I’m not going to play with you!

Jesus says, That’s you. You’re engaged in ministry, but when you find yourself in disagreement with a colleague, you withdraw. You say the newsletter ought to be full-color; I know we can’t afford that. And before you even realize it, you’ve slipped away … detached from that person … written them off.

Whatever isn’t to my liking, I tend to withdraw from. I hear a tune I don’t like, I refuse to dance. But God says, I’ll teach you to dance beautifully to that flute. I’ll take even a bad song and make something good of it. Don’t withdraw — plunge in! This is an opportunity to grow. Grasp every opportunity to participate personally in Kingdom-building!

My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… Lord, you know exactly which situation I’m most unhappy about in my ministry. Please give me the grace and the strength to forge ahead, so I don’t miss out on anything you have for me, or for this ministry. Amen.

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About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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