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Resigned to Focus on Service and Discipleship

resignedOur church’s amazing children’s director recently resigned.

It’s understandable financially. We couldn’t pay her what her household needed for her to keep doing the job. It wasn’t the first time our financial team approached her over the years to explain that the money coming in simply wasn’t able to sustain her position full-time.

She’s now working for a cable company.

Maybe that’s why what I just read about The Container Store is rubbing me the wrong way.

According to BusinessInsider.com, the Container Store founder/CEO Kip Tindell has grown his business to 67 locations and annual sales of nearly $800 million. He’s done this by paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average: $50,000 a year versus the national average of $25,000.

Tindell’s philosophy is “the 1=3 rule,” meaning that one great employee will be as productive as three employees who are merely good.

I completely agree with this, which is why I’m really bothered by it.

It’s made me further stew on how unfair it is that a cable company can pay our former children’s director way better than our church can, especially when that person is amazing with the next generation. After all, the world doesn’t need more cable… it needs more Jesus.

2013-08-22-jesusjukeCall that a “Jesus Juke” if you want. Then again, maybe it’s time we stop sarcastically parroting Jon Acuff and realize how sad this truly, truly is.

A cable company believes that people want to passively zone out and watch other people entertain them. Sure, it can offer inspirational programming… as much as it can offer yet another lame zombie or medieval plotline we’ll set down our standards for in order to experience “some great TV.” It wants employees who will get you to literally “buy” into this.

The Container Store assumes an active demand that it woos great people for. As the average consumers really want more space for stuff they don’t really need to impress people they don’t really like while spending money they don’t really have, there is arguably some real importance to the company wanting sales associates who can competently point out the difference between “bricks” and “modular” storage systems.

A church, on the other hand, is about making disciples who make disciples who make disciples. It’s not as sexy as cable or as tangible as storing things. It will, however, really change the worlds and eternities of real people.

Allow me to explain why I’ve shared all of this.

I get it.

  • churchfinancesIf you’re a full-time paid minister, you’re likely not being paid what you think you’re worth.
  • If you’re a part-time paid minister, you’re likely frustrated that the church hasn’t taken you to full-time yet.
  • If you’re a volunteer minister, you’re likely upset when you don’t insist on pay so that there can be more money in the youth budget, only to find that money doesn’t always make it there.

I also get that you get that this isn’t about money. Serving teenagers and adults was never meant to be a high paying job. Sometimes we forget that along the way and get frustrated when we don’t get what we were promised.

And… if I’m honest… I also get that God may want our former kids director in a cable company to share Jesus there.

You likely won’t get any of this until you’re resigned to serve.

In “Uncommon Wisdom From The Other Side,” I said it this way:

uncommon wisdomYou have signed up to be a spotlight operator for Jesus, and not a stand-in for his spotlight. It’s never our ministry, nor is it even the students’ ministry. Somebody cared for the kids you care about before you did. Somebody will care for them after you’re gone. It’s always God’s ministry, never belonging to any person.

He has placed all of this into your hands for this season. Let nothing distract you from showing teenagers Christ and not merely your cause. Don’t waste energy contending how important you are or else your sense of self will get wrapped up in how things rise and fall. You’re not successful by getting young people to show up or act more “Christian.” Success is when they transfer out of living in their own story and join into God’s story.

So model that.

Theoretically quit your job or calling, and rediscover what it means to follow Jesus. Let your walk with him—not your job description—define your worth. You may do the very things you’re doing, but the difference will be that people will see Jesus more clearly because you see Jesus more clearly.

Please note that I said to theoretically quit. If you can play out in your head how you’d unreservedly serve Jesus without your position, perhaps you can better serve Him unreservedly while in your position.

Are you resigned to serve?

What does that even mean for you?

@tonymyles

6 thoughts on “Resigned to Focus on Service and Discipleship

  1. Avatar
    Bishop Rick Heines

    My seventeen year old son was on a rant the other day. He resents the ministry we serve. I’m a middle school pastor with a minimum stipend, and I teach high school in our Christian Academy for an extremely minimum wage. I also serve a boy’s home ministry on call. Mom, a college degree holder too, works at Chick Fil A and cleans the local library. We still come up short financially. Sonny boy sees the other pastors taking nice vacations and having nice cars.
    I try to relate the account of the laborers in the vineyard, the first will be last etc., and that it’s not about money but about being where God calls you. He says factually, “We don’t ever have a real vacation, our cars are about ready to give up the ghost, we have to plan just to go out to eat… How are you supposed to [teenage attitude voice] ‘change the world’ when we don’t even have enough money to live? I’m pretty sure if God was going to bless us here He would have done so by now.”
    I’m so thankful that he and his three teenage siblings don’t resent God for perceived ministry injustices. We’ve had some challenging times at the hands of some leadership and now that the children are older they put the pieces together, maybe not necessarily in the right order. My last conversation regarding finances with our lead pastor went something like, [My wife’s name] and I could be happy sleeping under a bridge, but we have four children looking at us and the God we serve. Funny, pastor looked at me too.

    • Avatar

      Thank you for sharing, Rick. Wouldn’t it be great as dads and husbands if we had a quick reply that would give everything perspective? Something like, “Everyone, we’re missionaries… instead of being the rich people overseas in a poor village, we’re the poor people in America in a rich village. So let’s remember we’re on the toughest mission field out there – didn’t Jesus say how hard it would be for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of heaven?” Then our families would all pause, say something holy and profound, and we’d high-five each other, heading out into the mission field.

      Meanwhile, little 12-year old Johnny next door just got a new car he can’t drive for four years while your 17-year old is riding a bike to work.

      Man, I get it… I really do. I went out last night to take a local friend who can’t drive out to buy second-hand shoes. I realized that while our income brackets are different, we’re both “tight” this month. That’s the thing a realtor friend pointed out – that many homes in our neighborhood have people who are working two jobs just to keep them, but from the outside we only see the beautiful shells.

      Years ago, my wife and I were in a much lower income bracket… for a long while. One of us (I won’t say who) turned to the other and said, “Surely God doesn’t expect us to be poor our whole lives, right?” The reply was, “Why not? What if that is His best plan for our lives… does He truly require us to be rich to live a life that matters… does He promise us we will be prosperous financially?” The irony was we’d just visited a church where the pastor’s wife had been on stage and complained how hard a week she’d had because the salon where she goes to have her nails done did it wrong, and “Now I have to go back.”

      Again, wouldn’t it be great if there was a silver bullet of understanding? Take your family to serve the homeless, for example, so they can “get it.”

      On the other hand, let me also add as a dad and husband that it’s as biblical for you to shift things around to care for your family as it is to care for the church. In fact, worth noting that God established the family institutionally before the Church – you can always find another congregation if you lose this one, but you can’t always find your family if they get lost. Consider what needs to shift on your end – if anything. I’m praying for you now in this.

  2. Avatar

    I was made redundant almost exactly a year ago. I was an assistant youth adviser to the diocese (church of england) for 5 years, part time. A job that took over and meant that I had to stop doing my part time self employed work. By the time lost my job because of funding cuts, I had no other income. The whole process and current situation has meant that I’m on the edge of completely losing my faith.

    • Avatar

      Craig – I wish I could simply say the right words to help you feel differently. The reality is I also know this pain from a situation I was in years ago… different circumstances, but the same outcome – I was pushed out of a church that I had made on sacrifice after another for. Even worse, I was flopped into a position that seemed to be a nice action on the part of the senior pastor… when it only seemed to be more strategic for my exit. If it helps, I shared about it live, along with the perspective it gave me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwen8moJnSg

      As I said, though, different circumstances… but the same pain. I also found myself wanting to scrap my faith, wondering how some of the people who were to represent Christ the most seemed to represent Him the least. In fact, if you email me (tonymyles@hotmail.com) I have something that may offer perspective – reach out to me as you’re willing. I’d like to serve you.

      And I also want to apologize on behalf of others in the Church who should, but haven’t. It can put you into a place where life strips you down and you begin to ask questions about who you are. Beware of trying to fill in the holes with your sense of what you felt you were owed… along with whatever your education, accomplishments, trophies, and references make you feel you deserve.

      Instead, follow in the footsteps of the One who became nothing so that we could receive everything. Consider and appreciate how Jesus had the ultimate resume, and yet chose to think of Himself as a servant. He did absolutely nothing wrong, yet suffered the worst kind of evil… all so that true Resurrection would be possible. According to the reactions He received and what He said, I imagine the conversation if it took place today would likely go like this: “You are plan A. There is no plan B. I understand that some of you are struggling to have faith in Me, even though I’m standing in front of you Resurrected from the dead. If you don’t have the kind of faith in the Church that you know is needed, let Me have faith in it on your behalf. One day, you’ll be with Me together in the Perfect Church in the Kingdom to come. For now, this imperfect world will only allow an imperfect version of that. Follow Me?”

      I hope you email me, so we can keep chatting and I can serve you. Praying for you today, Craig.

  3. Avatar
    Bill Neyland

    Great article and in response to the comment – Bless you in Jesus name! You and your wife are serving selflessly….. Your reference to the laborer a in the vineyard was spot on . When we have connected , experienced and ” sold out” to Jesus. , it is because our hearts belong to Him…… And I truly believe youth/ children’s ministry is very close to His heart …. Blessings ..

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Resigned to Focus on Service and Disc...

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