My mom is convinced this will be a “Thanksgiving Baby”. She could be right – my husband and I are expecting our first baby in the next week or so. So as we approach the USA Thanksgiving holiday (Thurs., Nov. 24) we have something new and special to be grateful for!
We’re both excited and nervous. And we’re humbled that God is entrusting us with the responsibility to care for one of God’s own beloved children. To be honest, my biggest fear is that I’ll discover I’m too self-centered to give so much of my attention to someone else. In the past few years I’ve grown pretty content to focus on my self and live according to my own agenda. But in a few days my world will suddenly center on round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes – and a lifetime of carrying the child in my mind and heart. Will I be able to make caring for someone else my focus?
At this juncture in my life, I’m called to rediscover the meaning of sacrificial living and discipleship. I have been a priesthood member and a professional minister for Community of Christ in some capacity for about 10 years now. In that time I have come to closely identify my calling with my career ministry. “Who I am” and my sense of personal worth has become closely tied to my ministry roles. Whether we work for the church or not, modern culture encourages all of us to attach our self-identity to our careers.
Who we are = What we do.
Consequently, we judge our personal value by the same metrics we use to assess our career success – recognition, promotions, salaries, meeting deadlines, and so on. And we tend to judge others – often subconsciously – by the same metrics. But Christ calls us to a new standard!
Jesus demonstrated a life well lived. He focused his effort, time, and emotional energy on other people. His mission and ministry were defined by his extraordinary, others-centered relationships – not the world’s standards of achievement.
For Jesus: Who He Is = How He Loves.
One of the most difficult, and yet most simple, requirements of Christian discipleship is to live counter-culturally by measuring “success” by our level of care for the most vulnerable around us.
I’ve had a Post-it stuck on the bulletin board above my desk for years. It’s a reminder of God’s message for me as I work. It reads, “The measure of a life well lived, of a meaningful life, is in how well one has cared for those most dependent upon them. Who leans on you for love, provision, and compassion?” The answer to that question is changing for me. So my challenge at this crossroads is to have the courage to let go and learn to redefine myself and my ministry in Jesus’ terms, not my own.
How has God challenged you to redefine yourself?
[I’ll be on maternity leave from December through February. During that time, please direct any Young Adult Ministries matters to Michelle Booth at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and Hope to you all!]