‘Motivations are, at best, mixed’. I can’t remember who, or where, years ago I first heard this comment, but it’s one, on which, I have often reflected. Unfortunately, to give credence to such a comment is simultaneously frustrating, unhelpful, messy, lacking in pure holiness, confusing and sadly, true (at least that’s the default position, so you are blessed indeed if you get through more than a day otherwise).
However, to acknowledge it’s truth can result in me (yes we cannot go down this road assuming it’s everyone else’s problem) making wise choices, which ultimate keep my motivations within the boundaries of what a previous generation would have described as ‘godly’. Surely not!
I am of the opinion, whatever the outcome of this year’s decisions concerning finance, the biggest issue for our Accredited and wider “Ministry” over the next ten years, within BUGB, is character.
I am not suggesting I find our Ministers, in this generation, lacking the character of Christ anymore than a previous generation (not that I have many, first hand, I can compare them with you understand!). What does disturb me, however, is how the creeping legislative nature of rules, guidelines, MR processes, etc. threatening to move character down the league table of requirements. We must ensure it remains in clear focus and the overwhelming priority.
So, I am disturbed …..
When I hear of Ministry continuing in order to secure housing post-retirement.
When I listen to Ministers reality of experience of conflict among the body of Christ.
When I observe actions and listen to words, which are against the church (God’s people, Christ’s body) from those called to serve and care for her.
When I hear evangelists described as ‘Ministers without manners’, as if character is not part of the missional imperative, ‘to make disciples’.
When I uncover blindness to who we actually are, as Ministers, as if we are a different breed, without sin, or compromise.
I re-read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1: 15-17 today. He thinks aloud when he asks ‘was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner, so that in the same breath I say both ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no?’ NB – he doesn’t leave it there. What he is doing, at this point, is holding up a mirror, seeing himself, but as the unfinished article. Aldous Huxley said, “The truth that makes you free is for the most part, the truth we prefer not to hear.” Paul was brave enough to look in the mirror.
In The Way to Freedom, by Bonhoeffer, he writes ‘The reasons one gives for an action to others and to one’s self are certainly inadequate. One can give a reason for everything. In the last resort , one acts from a level which remains hidden from us. So one can only ask God to judge us and to forgive us’.
I agree with Charles Ringma, commenting on this when he observes; ‘we never fully understand ourselves and therefore we need to accept the mystery of our own being. Our motivations will never be fully transparent even to ourselves. This we need to accept. What should never be acceptable, however, is that we refuse to be open to the judgment of God and others on the effectiveness of the actions that flow from our motivations’.
So, Ministry is seen in what we do. The miracle is God still calls ordinary sinners, like me!