This weekend, my friend Pastor Damian Chandler was here with us at our church to speak. It was a gift to my soul and to our congregation.
In an open Q and A, he was asked the question, what is the riskiest thing you’ve done in ministry? I loved his answer so much I want to share it with you.
“The riskiest thing I’ve done in ministry is I’ve dared to be myself.”
For anyone who’s been in leadership, you know how true this is. The demands and the struggle with the expectations of others is real and constant.
This reminds me of a passage in Scripture called, “the parable of the brats.”
But before we jump in, I will note that John and Jesus were very different. We see this clearly in the next passage. But here’s one thing they had in common. Neither went along with what the people wanted or expected. They were committed to following the expression of the will of God through their own life and relationship with God.
Hear the Word of the Lord.
Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” [Luke 7:31-35]
The people could not be pleased. John lived this way, Jesus said, and you weren’t happy. Then I came living this way, and you weren’t happy with that either.
Are we giving in to the voices of those who are placing their expectations on us, instead of listening to the voice and call of God over our lives?
Could it be that we are asking God to dance to our song, or lament on our cue? Perhaps there are ways that we are trying to control God.
We can do this in many ways, and trying to conform to the expectations of the people is one way.
But really, do we ask God to serve us or are we serving God?
We are called to enter God’s grace and move to God’s tune. That means sometimes people will be applauding us. And sometimes people will be booing, angry at us. Either way, our focus is on God and God’s tune.
The question for us today, dear friends, is this: Do we want to follow God or do we want God to follow us? Sometimes I ask God to follow me in the ways I try to keep everyone happy. Sometimes I ask God to follow me by demanding God work in a particular way in order to evidence God’s presence in a situation. Sometimes I ask God to follow me in questioning how God is moving me to react because it’s not what I would expect. I ask you, is there any way you are trying to control God?
Beloved, may you trust the process, knowing that your faithful God is at work in your life. May you live a courageous life, daring to be who you were made to be.