All dressed up, as the sun rose from behind the Sierra on a late summer day, for church in the middle of the week. Driving to a Central Valley community, we looked forward to meeting with preachers and their wives and others who minister, for a time of encouragement and camaraderie.
It’s been awhile since we’ve done this. The school year requires my preacher/school administrator/husband to open the doors each morning, and lock the doors each late afternoon—being completely immersed for the hours between, in educating our children’s minds and nurturing their souls.
While en route on this rare occasion, memories flooded of ministry years past—meetings, retreats, conferences… Catching up with friends we typically only see at times like this.
In some ways it’s similar to any other convention for like-minded laborers, those having skills and occupations in common. The men share ideas, report on progress, and make requests for prayer. In between the singing and preaching.
To remind us: why we remain in the trenches of spiritual warfare. Sort of a pep rally for preachers.
As Paul reminded Timothy,
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching… be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. – II Timothy 2:2 & 5
Young preacher boys, enamored by the power and prestige when seasoned pastors congregate, believe this to be the ministry, and long for the day when they can walk among other preachers with head held high, being recipients of favored greetings and man’s applause.
Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplace. – Luke 11:43
But real ministry is far more often done behind the scenes. You’ll find it marked by devotion to service, compassion for others, promotion of unity, filled with sacrifice, deplete of criticism, complaint or slander, and a whole lot of other things that aren’t easy to accomplish, unless self is out of the way.
…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:26-28
With every look in a mirror or in the Word we are challenged by Christ’s example. Continual prayers for wisdom and grace are offered, reminding us we are nothing without Him, in this work of pointing others to Him.
Later that day after the exchanging of contact info and hugs all around, we went our separate ways. It was a time of blessing, renewing old acquaintances and forming new ones.
I kept thinking, where two or three are gathered in His name, Jesus is there in the midst.
Although there were no spotlights or red carpet, no celebrities, no official visiting dignitaries, and it wasn’t in the news, God took notice of this small group of simple preachers who took time away from their own ministries to support others in their ministries.
For having spent those few hours with Him and His servants, we came home refreshed… content… and privileged to be a part of God’s work in this way.