Wasn’t it a wonderful experience to watch the documentaries and funeral service of Billy Graham? What an amazing spiritual leader!
Several memes, posts and commentators spoke the words from Scripture, “Well done. Good and faithful servant.”
Although I agree with that sentiment, especially for Billy, I struggle with the root of what that subject means.
“You’ve done well. You’ve worked hard in ministry and you’ve impacted others. You have completed your tasks.”
Again, all positive statements – until we get out of balance.
In the early years of my ministry life, I was big into the “doings” of service. My motivation came from a legalistic background. Work hard to keep God happy.
In the doing of my faith, I soon lost myself in the needs of others. While the work was good and the results bore fruit, a cry from my barren soul remained untended.
Although helping others was a daily goal, somewhere along the line I needed people to love me for WHO I was rather than for WHAT I could give them.
Years later as I learned more about setting boundaries and intimacy with God, my good works were motivated out of love for God. This passion morphed into a love for people and the desire to watch them grow in their maturity.
Still, I longed to hear “Well done,” believing somehow that God’s acceptance and the approval of people would somehow fill that empty and exhausted place within me.
Now that I have resigned from the ministry, the doing has become secondary to the being. My hope rests in the truth of respecting who God created me to be and realizing that’s okay.
I can still live from the principle of the two greatest commandments: love God and love others.
But now I embrace the truth that one of those “others” is me.
The ministerial tasks that once consumed my life are now deleted from task charts. I continue to help others, but through the more subjective tools of writing and coaching writers.
Because I have learned to let go of the works mentality, I believe the impact of what I do is greater. Now it comes authentically from the heart, not from the ethic of works.
No more “doing” for the sake of approval or acceptance. Lots more “being” and finding joy in the every day.
Waiting to hear “Well done” is not as important as it once was. And I have learned that saying “No” can be just as blessed as a half-hearted “Yes.”
When I get to heaven, I don’t care if crowns are presented to me or accolades for what I have done.
Instead, I just want an eternity-long hug from God and his voice in my ear, “I. Love. You.”
©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
During spring break, check out “Hope Shines.” Nuggets of encouragement for weary souls.