Thursday, December 5, 2013
Have you ever been in a room where someone is trying to open a jar? Everyone wants to give it a try.
"Give it here, I can do it." Everyone feels that somehow they will be able to do it better or will have more luck or will do it in just the right way to get that darn jar open. That feeling is common and very human. Sometimes the feeling is based on knowledge, i.e. the person feeling that way may indeed be very strong, or have opened jars before and knows a neat trick that gets the job done nine times out of ten. Often though, I've found that that feeling in myself often is based on nothing more than a desire to succeed where others have failed. Somehow, I'll find the secret, I'll be stronger, I'll be successful. Sometimes this feeling is encouraged when having been loosened by the previous efforts, the lid comes off relatively easy. I feel vindicated, I feel great and sometimes superior.
I sometimes feel that new people coming into a ministry situation are like the person seeing someone struggling with the pickle jar top and thinking, "oo, oo, give that to me, I can open it!" The subtext is, "You just weren't doing it right, or your fingers just weren't strong enough." Sometimes, as in the case of the jar, previous ministry efforts have made the situation ready for fruit and the new comer effort added to the what has gone on before causes great forward movement in a ministry. Sometimes the newcomer tries and tries and still ends up with a jar that is stuck shut.
I acknowledge, that just as in the case of the jar, there are times when a person needs help to get something done and that in the case of ministry, sometimes we need someone of more maturity and spiritual strength to open the jar for us or perhaps we just need more people to lend their strength and collaborate with us in order to get the thing done. However, I wish for more maturity on the part all parties.
I would wish that the new personnel would be aware of this very human urge in themselves and be careful. Beware of the feeling that the reason that the jar is still closed (why there doesn't seem to be the expected fruit in ministry), is because of some deficit in the original efforts. It may just be a stubborn jar, one that needs a lot of force to open. If the ministry does take off, beware of feeling vindicated or superior as the success seen is first and foremost from the Lord, but also upon previous effort and foundations laid by others.
Of course the new members should join their effort to what's going on. Asking to have a try is not the problem. The desire on all parties is to have the jar open after all! (There are cases where the original worker would rather break the bottle than let anyone else open it, but I'm not addressing that here). The problem is one of motivation. What motivates us to ask/demand that we should have a chance to do it (whatever it is). If our motivations are wrong, there will be consequences and hard feelings.
Spiritual maturity on the part of the new worker looks like being eager to join in the effort but humbly acknowledging that, at least in the beginning, what they have to offer is more energy than strategy. They should be careful not to jump to conclusions when they are still ignorant of all that has gone before.
Spiritual maturity in a seasoned worker is acknowledging that God works in newbies as well. That new strategies, a fresh look and energy can open doors that were thought to have been nailed shut. Both seasoned and unseasoned should remember that they were all sent to do the will of Lord. Respect and Love for the Lord and one another can cover a multitude of immaturities.