"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others." ~ Philippians 2: 1-5
A friend and colleague in ministry shared that he feels the need to move beyond the community that he helped to create.
Having, "been there, done that," I can remember the feelings that I experienced when I realized that God was leading me and a community I was serving, into two different directions.
Why is it that when something we have put our entire life into doesn't turn out as had hoped? And why do we see the situation immediately as failure?
That's how I felt. If I'm being totally honest, that's where I found myself. I spent the good portion of two years totally trashing myself, all because something different happened with a project I had poured my life into.
Even after several years I can trap myself into the "should haves." We have all experienced this. When we tell ourselves, "I should have done this like..."
The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative.
Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté.
However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another.
Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own.
The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"
The idea that it was a failure, is strictly a human understanding. Being Ecclesiastical people reminds each of us that there are significant roles and chapters we all must live in order to be signs of God's presence in the world.
The idea of success is confusing. In the eyes of God just having taken the chance to create community where we become less than so God may become great, is by far the most important thing to take from such experiences.
Having the courage to say "yes" to something God had placed in your heart, is by far the most amazing experience any human being can encounter.
People change. Visions develop and grow. The challenge when faced with both, especially in the community we have been a part of, is allowing God, and not us, to have the glory.
"My good and faithful servant," are words we all hope to hear one day. No where does this say "failure." It is a blessing... and what is expected.
Praying for the changes we all encounter and the beginning blessing awaiting by following the heart of God in our lives.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.