Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"comiendo sapos"

Some years ago I was discussing with another preacher some of the things we do to serve others, particularly the brethren. He summed it all up in a very colorful expression--at times we have to "comer sapos"--eat toads. Obviously he didn't mean literally eating a toad, but rather do something that would be as odious as eating a toad. There are a lot of things I will eat and have eaten, from nutria to crawdads and frog legs, but the very thought of eating a toad almost gags me.

In our work as preachers we are often called upon to perform just such tasks, for the good of the church and frequently a particular brother or brethren. Whether we have wronged someone (intentionally or unintentionally) the preacher is the one who must humble himself and begin the "confession" process. How often have I thought to myself, "why do I always have to be the bad guy?" because it doesn't seem to matter whether I am really or not, that's the way it comes off. What is particularly galling is when it happens over and over with the same person.

At other times we are asked to perform menial, even unpleasant physical tasks--running people to the Dr., caring for them, etc. As that is part of the work of every Christian and since preachers frequently are more flexible in their time use, some of this is expected and just part of the job, but it can also get out of hand.

Then are those times that we are called upon for "counseling". Usually by the time it gets to you, it is a fullblown crisis, so not only is it painful for all involved (including the preacher and/or his wife) but takes a lot of effort and time to resolve it, if it can in fact be resolved. How disheartening it is to spend hours over several months time with a couple, only to have them divorce anyway. Or there are those people who aren't really seeking counsel, but rather approval, or just someone to listen to them. Again, we all need a shoulder to cry on sometimes, but this can be overused too.

But before we begin bemoaning our lot, and how the brethren "abuse" us, let us remember that the word minister means servant--in choosing to be a preacher or minister we are choosing to be a servant. Service to the brethren is what binds them to you and gives you the influence with them to "kick em in the pants" at times when needed. It also gives you the credibility to teach them things they may not want to accept. Service is part and parcel of the preacher's job.

This is true not only of preachers though, but of all Christians. We are called to be servants of God, not masters for Him. Should we not be willing to suffer a wrong if it will strengthen another? Paul said he would never eat meat again if it caused his brother to stumble--do you have that attitude? As servants of God it is our duty to obey His will, not my desires.


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