I promised a while back to tell you a lesson I learned during Holy Week- if you asked.
Nobody asked. But here goes.
Everyone talks about how "busy" pastors must be during Lent, Advent, etc, what with normal duties along with two messages per week. I have found that it isn't what most people think. We're all busy, right? We should talk about it less and spend the time we save making wise investments of time, treasure and talent. I'm guilty in that area. This is confession.
I have always thrived on being able to work fast- to get more done in a given time than others around me. I'm not claiming quality, mind you- but the quantity is undeniable. Of course, this helps one along in various stations of life- such behavior is highly rewarded in our society. The down side is that this approach to "getting things done" forces one to rely on one's on capabilities over and over again. So accolades come, but all the while the "hook" of "I can do this" is set all the deeper. Pride and works righteousness put down deep roots. It's something I struggle with regularly, taking it to the cross of Christ daily.
When Holy Week came I was ready for the challenge- sermons planned, services prepared (with the help of many others), calendar organized. God gets the last laugh, though, exposing our idolatry with tender care:
- We have been hiring of late, and our staff is currently reduced by 33%.
- I got sick on Palm Sunday, and couldn't really work on Monday.
- My family got sick around that time, and I couldn't really work on Tuesday.
- The kids were sick all week, so life at home was hard for Michele, too.
And all of a sudden my calendarizing went out the window: Come now, you who say "today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and engage in such and such an activity...James 4:13-17.
The plot thickens
During the message on Palm Sunday the light bulb in the projector at the rear of the sanctuary went out. I can hear you now: "There is a projector at the rear of the sanctuary?" Yes. It's a big help to speakers and singers, letting them see what you see- it keeps us on the same page. Now, millions of people are in heaven without the earthly benefit of "confidence monitors," but...
...we had to fix this before Thursday/Friday/Sunday
"I need to get this done," I told myself.
"I can take care of this myself," I told myself.
And- don't read this if you want to keep believing how focused and full of integrity your pastor is- I was thinking this while I was preaching. Gulp.
You can see it coming
This kind of thinking never ends well. And my plans didn't. Suffice it to say that I slaughtered 6-8 precious hours doing something that I never should have done in the first place. The scales fell off my eyes when, 30 minutes before our Maundy Thursday service and after two attempts climbing a 40 foot extension ladder with a replacement projector- a friend said, "Why didn't you call JP and Weiner?" He was referring to two of our trustees, both of whom know video and love a good challenge. [The funniest part of this is that the gentleman who corrected me is the most "Git-r-Dun" and "I don't need no stinkin' lab partner" person I've ever known in my life, and he knows it. God has a sense of humor. See "Donkey: Balaam's."]
I didn't call them because I was too busy thinking about how much I needed to get done with my abilities and on my schedule
Translation: I was sinning. Instead of equipping the saints, I was working for (supposed) programmatic excellence. Ick. Ew. Ugly. I'm not making too big of a deal about this. The root of this whole fiasco is pride. And God used the fact that "things didn't' go well" to help expose it.
"I can do it better myself" keeps a lot of people out of heaven, too. Instead of looking upon the cross and what Jesus did for us there we look upon our (relative) goodness and what we do for God here. It is a works-righteousness trap that disqualifies a precious, eternal human soul from salvation.
Pride is the source of most of my pain
This is a great philosophy exercise: You can find the lie behind most pitfalls by asking "why" five times. In this case it only takes three:
"I'm stressed and fearful and anxious and hurting"
"I'm afraid I won't get everything done."
"If I don't get things done our ministry won't advance quickly enough, someone may accuse me of being lazy, or imply that not everything got done?"
Why does this disturb you?
"Because I demand that everyone think I'm as great as I think that I am."
I hope so. And not just by me. I've learned that when I say things people may or may not listen and learn. When I do things, people catch it and implement it. But when I really mess up, and am able to talk about it with our leadership, they REALLY learn from my negative example.
And they are so gracious to me. The bulb is fixed. Everyone is safe. Our leadership had a good chuckle at my expense, and we're moving on.
I will probably write this post again sometime
But what a time savings! I can just repost this! We learn, but often return to sins and errors of the past. And when we do we have Jesus Christ as our advocate (1 John 2:2). Oh patient Father, thank you for bearing my sin of pride and selfish works-righteousness at the cross. You are good, and I am Yours.