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The cross is not a place to celebrate one’s self-worth

We have a silly idea that we are all supposed to get a ministry that makes us feel significant. It’s the notion that I need to do something for Jesus or I won’t feel like I’m worth anything. Thus, churches develop turf-protectionism over various places of service. The elderly organist will not cede her spot to the younger member who is a professional musician. He has felt important every Sunday for 40 years and suddenly he’s being asked by the church leadership to step down. Leaders find themselves intimidated to ask for the obvious because Christians have claimed their place of service, no matter how small, as their turf and there’s hell to pay if you dare remove them from their place of serving Jesus so that it can be done more efficiently by someone else.

Recently I was counseling a woman who came to me completely broken and worn out. For years she has tried to have a ministry that reaches out to other women but it has been hindered by a husband that has disgusting addictions, she said. She was tired, I could tell, and frustrated. I don’t think I will forget the look that came over her face, a look of shock, when I said matter-of-factly, “Well, maybe God doesn’t want you to have a ministry.”

She listened on as I said, “Maybe God wants you to find out how awesome He is to a person married to a loser.”

The look was a look of rest. The relief of one who comes to Jesus weary and heavy-laden and finds that He is good even if one does not have a rewarding ministry.

We can’t really follow Jesus until we are willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross. This means saying no to anything that glorifies me and yes to the sacrifices that are for the glory of God. The whole reason we have been elected is for the praise of His glorious grace. If our ministry and service in the church, be it pastoral or janitorial, are about making us feel some sense of worth, we lose an appreciation for the amazing-ness of sheer grace. The kinds of things that Jesus calls us to are cross things. And the cross is not a place to celebrate one’s self-worth.

*Wendy Alsup’s post today was right in line with my own meditations as I prepare for tomorrow’s message from Matthew 16:21-27.


4 Responses

  1. “Maybe God wants you to find out how awesome He is to a person married to a loser.”

    I love that line. It makes me tear up, actually, because we so rarely say that to hurting people. Or “maybe God wants you to find out how awesome He is to a parent of children who don’t conform to your standards.”

    • What about situations where someone is the piano player for years at a church, and then a new pastor comes in and makes sure that his piano-proficient wife is the new every-Sunday piano player?

      • Kristin,

        My point is not really that the switch should be made. Clearly, there are many factors that play into whether a person’s role ought to be summarily changed. Respect and honor are always appropriate. In some cases, more talented people need to be humble (take up their cross) and wait for their opportunity.

        The point I’m trying to make is that people claim a service to God that they like and where they feel appreciated and their sense of worth is diminished if they don’t keep it. That, I think, is wrong. We should all get to the point that we want what’s best for the whole body. And often that’s a cross for us.

        It was for Jesus.

  2. […] The cross is not a place to celebrate one’s self-worth […]

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