Explorer Thomas Hearne and his party had just set out on a rigorous expedition in northern Canada to find the mouth of the Coppermine River. But just a few days after they left, thieves stole most of their supplies. Hearne’s response, as logged in his writings stated, “The weight of our baggage being lightened, our next day’s journey was more swift and pleasant.” Instead of bemoaning his situation, Hearne’s immediately identified the advantage it gave him.
Now, I’m not asking you to live in denial but the question is, how do you respond when things don’t go as well in your course of serving? Are you regretful because your earnest effort has been ignored or even despised, when all you really wanted was to make a contribution to God’s kingdom? Is serving the Lord worth the stress and avoidable pain?
Pain and hurt sometimes occurs as we strive to serve. Every form of ministry in the local assembly is established to meet the needs of people. And the only reason why pain and hurt occur is because people have to relate with people in ministry. However, the fact that church workers get hurt even when their intentions are the most noble, does not remove the truth that without service one cannot make impact.
Pain and hurt in the course of duty is not unique to ministry. It occurs where ever people have to deal with other people. In the words of Oswald Chambers, “If you are going to live for the service of your fellowmen, you will certainly be pierced through with many sorrows, for you will meet with more base ingratitude from your fellowmen than you would from a dog. You will meet with unkindness and two-facedness, and if your motive is love for your fellowmen, you will be exhausted in the battle of life. But if the mainspring of your service is love for God, no ingratitude, no sin, no devil, no angel, can hinder you from serving your fellowmen, no matter how they treat you. You can love your neighbor as yourself, not from pity, but from the true centering of yourself in God.”
But why do we inadvertently cause ourselves pain even when we serve the same purposes? One fundamental reason among others is inadequate person-to-person skills. We know the bible says to love one another, and that 1 Cor 13 lists the characteristics of love, but in the same way, many know that medicines work and tobacco kills but pay no heed to the proper use of these substances. Many workers know how not to do wrong, but lack the skills of how to do right. One may not swallow poison, but still be poisoned by not eating the right foods in the right measures.
Practicing effective person-to-person skills
Often we do not consider our deportment in the course of spiritual service. Some believers treat church work as mere mediocre occupation, and this attitude informs the results we obtain. God’s vineyard deserves excellence, and as such church workers ought to observe certain level of ethics in relating with one another and those whom they serve. The secular workplace upholds certain workplace behaviour, the house of God cannot have less. The office does not condone lateness under whatever pretext, but church departments remain weak and ineffective because anything is acceptable.
In spite of past hurtful experiences however, proper work comportment requires that you treat fellow workers, church members, visitors and authority figures with Respect in speech, actions and reactions. 1st Corinthians 13 states proper work comportment for the effective worker. A worker should be longsuffering and kind, not envious or proud, not rude or difficult to relate to, not self-centred or short-tempered, not deviant in habit, positive, reliable, dependable, possessing endurance, faith and deep consideration for all concerned.
The type of business we do as workers is to bring succour to wounded people. Most have suffered more-than-sufficient stress from the harsh world system. As workers, we can only provide a cool shade when they come to church. It was Emily Elizabeth Dickinson who said, “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin into his nest again, I shall not live in vain. And let me encourage you, your labour will never go unnoticed. God will surely reward you. According to Edward Bouberie Pusey, “Not one thing which you have ever done for God has been lost; not one is lost or ever will be lost.” So, hold on and keep up the good work. One day, your service will identify you.
Let me leave you with the encouraging words of Woodrow Wilson, “The princes among us are those who forget themselves and serve mankind.”
Tope A. Banjo
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