Readings for July 15, 2012 / Revised Common Lectionary: Amos 7:7-15, Mark 6:14-29
One of the discouraging things about undertaking any new ministry is that, while you seem excited and all “visionary” about the possibilities, others just don’t seem to care. It takes a long time for your ideas to catch on, if ever. Pastors new to their congregations come with good ideas, but they fall on deaf ears. People go to seminars, like Formational Prayer Seminars, and see the exciting ways in which God is working in the ministry of Formational Prayer. Then they go home to stony faces or glazed-over eyes or unresponsive boards, and get discouraged. So they come back to the next seminar (or email some caregiver like me, or maybe the seminar office) and ask what they can do to get a ministry started in their congregation. How can we move people and get them motivated? There are a lot of techniques, I suppose, that will help, but in these two readings especially there is at least one possibility that we almost never consider.
Perhaps we should begin by saying, seek the voice of the Holy Spirit to discern just what your calling is. Not just “pastor” or “formational prayer caregiver” or whatever other ministry you may want to undertake. But what is your calling in the place you have been called to? What is your calling in this kairos? What is it that the Lord needs you to do, has called you to do, is giving you the gifts to do? His calls to Amos and to John, and his messages through Amos and John, were very specific. Both of these men could have asked “why isn’t anyone excited about my message” when in fact their messages were intended to upset their ultimate targets – and upset them they did! In Amos’ case he was lambasted by the priest at Bethel; in John’s case he lost his life because of his calling.
I truly pray that neither you nor I lose our lives because of our callings as pastors, or caregivers, or formational pray-ers, or whatever ministry we may be in. But we know that others have been martyred for their testimony, and so maybe you’re OK with that. What we don’t expect is cold silence or unreceptive gazes. But before we get upset and wonder what’s wrong with these slow people, stop and spend some time in the company of the Holy Spirit and try to learn what it is He is calling you to do. It may not be what you think and expect.