Christian ministry is one of the easiest jobs to be idle in. Largely because most church workers run their own diaries and work alone or at home a lot of the time. There's no clocking in or clocking out. No boss breathing down your neck with a deadline.

At the same time, Christian ministry is one of the easiest jobs to burn out in. Because there is no clear beginning and end. It is all to do with people, and frankly I can't fix them, finish them or decide that they're a failed project that can be consigned to the bin of life. People take time. Loving people means that we persevere with them. And loving people means takes more energy than anything else.

So why do I think I might be idle? It's because of Paul's attitude to work. Listen to this from 2 Thessalonians 3.

7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.

Do you see Paul's attitude? The opposite to idleness is to work, labour and toil so as not to be a burden to others, but to be an example. 

In our introspective age we spend so much time thinking about ourselves. "Am I working too hard? Am I working too little?" If we stopped some of our navel gazing we'd have more time both for hard work and good rest!

In contrast Paul's level of work is governed by his desire to be an example to others.

So what level of work am I hoping to see among the people involved in the church I serve in.

I guess I hope they have a reasonable job that means that they can work no more than 40 hours a week (I know... in my dreams!). Then I hope to see them at church twice on a Sunday if they can make it (Some folk with kids will need to stay at home to put them to bed). Then I hope that they're involved in one of our Life groups or the HUB. And for the keenies, that they are serving in another way, maybe helping with Highway, our group for those with learning difficulties or one of our children and youth groups. It would be great if they were doing some hospitality as well.

That means I'm expecting the keen Christian to be involved most of Sunday and two evenings a week (probably with an hour or two for prep). So if I am to be model for them to imitate I need to be doing the equivalent. 40 hours a week, plus Sundays and two evenings (with a bit of prep not as "work" as well). All because I don't want to be a burden to them.

And then when I'm at home, then I actually need to focus on loving and serving my wife and children, rather than being a self-centred slob!

 

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