It is happening less and less, but it still pokes its head up now and then as I retire early from parish ministry on the basis of ill health: the feeling of “What have I actually accomplished?” in the course of life and ministry. Please don’t rush to reassure me. It is a passing problem and thought! However today here is another thought I had that greatly strengthened me:I found myself mulling over the words of Jesus about the ministry of John the Baptist. He said that John had restored all things that he was the Elijah who was to precede the Christ. The interesting thing is that John himself said that he was not Elijah. At the end of his life he needed to know that his ministry had not been a waste of time pointing in the wrong direction. He was far from thinking he had restored all things.
Has it ever crossed your mind that Jesus’ estimation of you and what you do is much more generous than your verdict on your own life, your own ministry? Perhaps you have been ministering this very day and wonder about the worth of what you have done today or indeed over the years. It may well just be that Jesus looks and thinks that you have done “all” in one way or another. That verdict may seem as over the top as what Jesus said about a prophet whose life was ended by some of the very powers he had prophesied would fall.
I remember an icebreaker at a meeting: we were all asked to share with the person sitting next to us what helps us get up and going on those days when we don’t feel like getting up and going. My answer was and remains this: “I get up because I know there is someone who loves me more than I have yet learned to love myself and who thinks more highly of me than I think of myself.”
If you have got faith to ask Him, why not ask Jesus to help you see who you are and what you do through His eyes. I posted a blog on my thoughts and appreciation of the life and ministry of Rev. Jim Graham a few days ago. The first time I met him was when he came north to preach and teach ad the first of several conferences in Thurso. I remember him saying to me after a few days among us, “Kenny, there are remarkable things happening; miracles are happening in this congregation.” He pointed out realities he had encountered of changed and changing lives through speaking with people. Much of what he mentioned, I had not even noticed. Ministry can be tough and sometimes we are so close to the things that are tough or discouraging that we can get a slightly jaundiced view of the way things really are: our outlook on others and ourselves can become jaded. I remember Jim’s comments to this day; the generosity of what he said seems a mark of true Christlikeness. It would be good for all of us to listen for Christ’s tone of generosity and to speak in that tone to one another.
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