Delighted in Ministry

As I write this I am sitting in a conference hotel room on the campus of one of my alma maters, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  I am here to speak to a class tomorrow, to visit with worship ministry students, and to visit with Dr. Greg Brewton, Coordinator of Worship & Music Studies in the newly reorganized School of Church Ministries at the seminary.

Having completed my Masters in Church Music here at Southern in 1985, I have not been on campus in some time.  A lot has changed since my days here, and yet I have had flashbacks all day walking around the campus, remembering people, sounds, and experiences that range from great celebration to deep lament.  I especially recall how formative my time here was for my ministry.  I am not just referring to my classwork, though that was certainly part of the story, but today’s experiences have once again been further interpreted by reading from the Word.  The lectionary reading for this day in Lent includes 1 Thess 2:2-12.  I trust my sharing is not just a catharsis for my journey today, but that it might serve to speak especially to those of you who are, like me, called into ministry, for this scripture speaks to our motivation for our service.

The passage of 1 Thessalonians references Paul’s ministry; his message of God’s gospel, his motive, which was neither impurity (v.3), nor pleasing people (v.4), nor greed (v.5), nor seeking praise from people (v.6), but rather pleasing God (v.4).  He was not tricking them, or just flattering them (v.5), but with courage (v.2), gentleness (v.7), love (v.8), and holiness (v.10) he worked among them (v.9).  The biggest “punchline” for me comes in verse 8, where Paul tells the people, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”  I have known that love in my ministry as well.  In every church I was privileged to serve God placed a love in my heart that gave delight in sharing of self.  Even during interim and short term ministries I have known the Lord to stir that deep love that only He can give.  I can recall numerous times when I was aware that I was not only sharing the Gospel, but was honestly sharing myself, and found deep delight in doing so.  Today’s Anglican lectionary includes thanksgiving for St. David of Wales, which serves as reminder of the unspeakable joy of sharing ministry with our Tennessee Men’s Chorale in that country.  Our gift to them was not only the Gospel shared in our song and testimony, but was also ourselves in visiting the shops, talking on the streets or in the rehearsal hall, or spending time late at night back at the hotel with singers from the Welsh choirs.  They became dear to us.

Today on Southern Seminary’s campus I revisited spiritual confrontations I so readily recall that haunted me during my seminary journey as I struggled with motives that could so easily drift away from the call to serve in Christ’s Name, and move instead toward a means of securing the world’s comforts.  I am sad to say I have had times when I have succumbed to the AmericI suppose that anytime we are advancing our skills there is a temptation to feel we deserve human acclaim, or advanced remuneration.  Walking across the campus again has allowed me to reminisce not only about my days as a student here, but to reflect upon the richest blessings that have come following my time of preparation through seminary education, as God has graced ministry with His very presence, the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated so many times in both large and subtle ways.  The “delight” that the Apostle refers to as he thinks about his work with the people of Thessalonica is an emotion with which I can related when I think of the sacred gift of ministering among His people. 

The other lectionary reading today is a glorious release of praise that befits such reflections on the delight of ministry!  It is Psalm 16:5-11, and Psalm 96:1-7.

            Lord, you are my portion and my cup;

            You have made my lot secure.

            The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places

            Surely I have a delightful inheritance….(16:5-6)

 

            You have made known to me the path of life;

            You will fill me with joy in your presence

            With eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (16:11)

 

            Sing to the Lord a new song;

            Sing to the Lord all the earth

 

            Sing to the Lord, praise His Name;

            Proclaim his salvation day after day….(96:1-2)

 

            Splendor and majesty are before him;

            Strength and glory are in his sanctuary. (96:6)

 

            Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;

            Tremble before him, all the earth. (96:9)

God, give us proper perspective to trust the spiritual battle to You, and to find the sweet delight in serving and loving people.

Paul

Note: I have written a guest article “From One Generation to Another” for Jonathan Riggs’ blog at lifewayworship blog (see links)

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Private Worship, Worship Reminders, Worship thoughts

One Comment on “Delighted in Ministry”

  1. Rich Says:

    Good post. I try to liken my longing for delight and satisfaction in my ministry as John Newton was in his.

    http://sounddoxology.blogspot.com/2010/02/worship-leaders-imitate-john-newton.html


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