This week I am attending a conference for pastors in the Evangelical Covenant Church. It’s called Midwinter and it has been taking place for 75 years. Pastors come here to continue their theological education, to network with others who are working in ministry and to listen to God. I’m not sure what other professional events look like as I have never been a professional in any other field but one of the byproducts or shadow sides of putting people of a similar profession all in one place is that there seems to be a bit of competition or at least some posturing, a need to proclaim your successes or even worse pretend that you are on the cutting edge of every next big thing.
I had a friend that used to call it “pissing on posts”, that habit of dogs to pee on every object, claiming everything from fire hydrants to the neighbor’s hydrangea as their own. And then the next dog comes along and claims the same. What is the tendency in us to want to be top dog, to claim ownership of everything, and to want to one-up rather than join-up?
I know the tendency myself. When I was a new follower of Jesus someone told me that the Holy Spirit gave spiritual gifts to people so that people could minister to the world in ways that wouldn’t be possible without God’s power in the mix. I began to pray that the Holy Spirit would give me all of the “gifts”. I felt like my heart was in the right place when I prayed for the power to minister to all people in every place. After several weeks of praying I spoke to a spiritual mentor of mine and bragged to him that I was praying for all the gifts.
I thought he would be so proud of me. Instead there was a long pause and he said, “First of all Judy, you are not wise enough yet to have some of those gifts. If God gave you the gift of healing would you know how to take a day off?” Point taken, I’m still struggling to figure out the Sabbath. He continued, “And secondly no one is meant to have all the gifts. If you have all the gifts you will never learn the joy of being part of the body and the gift of being dependent upon others. You are not meant to do this alone.”
We are better together. There are things that you know that I couldn’t dream of thinking. There are dreams that I dream that you would write off as unrealistic. Among us there are those who listen in a way that they hear things others miss and others who serve in ways that we would miss immediately if they chose to leave us. We are better together.
May you know today the great truth that in Christ Jesus you are not required to do everything. In Christ we are placed in a body with many parts and each one must do their own thing (1 Corinthians 12:12–17). And so today may you be released from the pressure that says you have to have all the gifts. May God save us from the constant temptation of “pissing on posts”. May we know the joy of being dependent upon one another. And may we be confident that this is the way that the whole body of Christ will be made manifest.