I absolutely loved the article “To Serve Is to Suffer” by Ajith Fernando last month. A sample:
The New Testament is clear that those who work for Christ will suffer because of their work. Tiredness, stress, and strain may be the cross God calls us to.
You should really read the whole article. It’s worth your time.
I loved Fernando’s article. So how do you explain that I like this post by Dave Kraft as well?
I believe the solution to the epidemic of tiredness is not all that complicated:
- Learn to say no.
- Intentionally slow down.
- Think strategically when you make decisions as to what you will do or not do.
- Simplify your life by de-cluttering your busy schedule.
So is being sometimes part of our calling, as Fernando says, or is it because we’re doing the wrong things?
An anonymous pastor posted a comment here on Saturday:
Who should I have said “no” to this week? The 11 year old girl in the hospital with kidney disease? The heart attack at the hospital at 1:00 a.m? The schizophrenic in depression who called me at my home at 9:30 p.m? The member of our church on welfare who needed money for groceries, and prayer regarding her psychosis? (Standing in the lobby of her ill maintained apartment building watching cockroaches, makes it hard to say “Next time I’ll just say no”. The reason she needed grocery money was because she had put a “down payment” on a portable air conditioner). The frightened abused wife going to divorce court, who didn’t want to be in the same room with that man without support? The young man in criminal court who deserves more than what his sentence was but whose parents are beside themselves trying to figure out how to help him? The couple needing marriage counseling? The planning meeting with a church leader? Lunch and prayer with my friend? Or maybe I’ll say no to the church about preaching tomorrow. Not every week is like this one of course, but my point is that it is hard to know who to say no to. Some of these meetings were planned ahead and the appointments were kept. The others came up as emergencies. Sometimes even Jesus had to change His mind about getting away. But some ministries just seem to be a series of emergencies and it is hard to know how to respond. I do not resent my work. I do not harbour ill feelings to my very needy people. But I do wrestle with solutions that make it sound very easy to make decisions like this.
This is far from an academic issue. And it’s part of what I’ve been wrestling through since my sabbatical started.
Is Fernando right, or is Kraft? Or is this just part of the tension of ministry? I’m interested in your thoughts.