Sundays - Expecting the Unexpected!
No matter how diligently you prepare, sooner or later there will be a Sunday morning that challenges even the most devoted servant heart. I’ll admit that Sundays can be a mixed blessing. Some weeks go so smoothly, and God’s presence is sensed throughout the day. Other Sundays, however, can quickly challenge patience levels and are amazingly draining for both the pastor and his wife.
When the phone rings on a Sunday morning at my house, it is typically not a good sign. Bracing for what is coming, I pick up the phone with a tentative “Hello” as I internally consider ways to rearrange my morning routine. The call can just be a simple request to bring some allergy medication along with me for my sweet husband. Or, I may hear my sweet pastor’s voice (yes, my husband!) letting me know that the sanctuary projection system has gone haywire. Now, he’s wondering if I can get it up and running again! Throwing on clothes, I consider what might be done to remedy the situation. As the clock ticks closer to the worship hour all those involved in the behind-the-scenes activities diligently work together and pray that all the details necessary to make a Sunday worship hour come together do just that – come together!
The Philippians 2 teaching on humility and having “the same mindset of Christ” is not first and foremost on my mind when I come face to face with a challenging Sunday. Keeping a ‘servant attitude’ is the goal, but it is hard to keep that in focus when a mini-crisis hits. When the issue at hand is just a crazy set of circumstances (such as computer glitches), it is much easier to “do everything without grumbling or arguing” (v. 14). However, when those crisis moments are created by no-show volunteers, last-minute requests or lack of follow through on someone else’s part a true ‘servant attitude’ becomes a difficult reality.
Walking the fine line between being a servant versus a doormat takes discernment and a lot of practice. The reality of ministry life means that we will face communication breakdowns, irresponsible individuals, those who love to triangulate conversations and outright sinful behavior within our church families. Gaining a healthy perspective on servanthood doesn’t mean that we take a ‘grin and bear it’ mindset, but rather that we learn to expect the unexpected. When challenges are anticipated they quickly lose their power. Remembering that Satan is always scheming for ways to make us less effective allows us to deflect his tactics, make wise and thoughtful decisions and stay positively focused on being a servant to those around us.
Putting others first is hard work! However, with the Holy Spirit’s help it is possible to joyfully serve others on Sunday mornings. In doing so, Paul teaches us that we“will shine among them [our warped and crooked generation] like stars in the sky” (verse 15b). A Christ-like attitude is not dependent on what others may or may not do. It does have everything to do with how we allow Christ to work within us – and what we want our “shine” to look like on Sunday mornings. In this process, we are challenged to do “nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (verse 3). Wow! That is a challenge, but it is possible when our eyes are focused on humbly serving our Savior and trusting Him to give us the wisdom and strength to face each day – especially Sundays.
Plus, you just never know when you’ll enjoy a week when all goes smoothly. In those moments, a humble heart can simply breathe a sigh of “Thank You, Jesus” as you walk out the door to enjoy your Sunday dinner. That simple prayer of relief - and thanksgiving - also helps the process of building a healthy dependence on God while acknowledging His goodness at work in and around you. So, this week try to expect the unexpected and no matter what may come your way, ask God to help you keep on shining His light in you!