Incarnation, Frustration, and Ministry…

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Having the mind of Christ Jesus in ministry is incredibly difficult. Distractions, frustrations… not to mention people… often serve to draw us away from the humility necessary to mirror/ reflect the glory of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This year has been a year of great victories and successes in ministry. It has also been a year when I have struggled against personal disappointments and have struggled to keep my assumptions and expectations from driving my ministry. I believe that at the heart of the purpose of a pastor is to not allow frustrations, disappointments, assumptions and expectations to get between Christ and the purpose He has in the lives of people to whom you minister. Here are a couple of realities I am dealing with this Christmas season in light of the humble incarnation of Jesus and the calling on my life (and yours) to reflect this humility.

1. Jesus’ expectations were related to a mission to save people from their sins… not just hang around people who were never sinning. Part of the humility found in the incarnation was found in the stripping of glory that came with the expectation that all who were allowed into His presence would be perfect and holy. Instead, Jesus placed himself around those who were anything but… His expectation was that they were broken… not that they should act like they weren’t.

2. My expectations for people should be related to a mission… a mission of mercy and grace… a mission of truth and love… a mission to reflect the nature of Jesus Christ. And the truth is… I struggle with this. I easily get frustrated with those who don’t live up to my expectations. It is easy to think a lack of spiritual maturity is some deep rooted sin. It is easier to be frustrated than to be patient. It is easier to assume people don’t care about Christ when they don’t find essential the things I do. It is easier to assume, period. It is ministry to humble yourself to the point of serving those that you often assume the worst about. Because… even if your assumptions are true… the mission remains the same.

This Christmas season, I give to Jesus my seemingly righteous frustration… the assumptions that my growth should be mirrored by everyone else… the assumption that I have grown to a point that others should catch up… the assumption that when my desires are not met, then others must not care… the assumptions that will cause me to flee from humility… instead of humbling myself in the image of Christ… as a servant. So to all to whom God has called me to minister… this Christmas is the Christmas that I give you to Jesus… since He has given you to me. He will do a lot better in you, through you and for you than I ever could.

To my church family at OPBC… thank you for your continued patience as I grow. Thank you for not allowing your assumptions to get in the way of loving me and my family. Thank you for serving… may we grow to serve each other and the nations… not because they deserve it… but because He deserves it. This Christmas… REFLECT THE HUMILITY OF JESUS CHRIST.

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