Hi, Rob here,
The family and I have just had 2 nights in Christchurch visiting mum and catching up with other family members. It was good but it meant another Sunday away from church on top of the many days I’ve missed lately visiting mum as she undergoes treatment. Normally I’d arrange to miss days when church life is quiet but church life is anything but that at the moment. As the pastor it is a strange feeling to be somewhat disconnected from the church when many important things are happening around you. And this reminds me of a valuable lesson; that not everything revolves around me.
The church has always functioned well when I’m away. Services happen as usual, others fill the preaching gap, friends rally around those who need pastoral care and leadership responsibility is shared out. It’s very cool and very humbling. It gives me permission to be myself and not try to be a superhero. The church is God’s and not mine, therefore, God raises up people in the church to do what needs to be done. This means that I can do what needs to be done in this season of life secure in the knowledge that it’s God who is leading the church.
This lesson applies to all of life. We take on roles that are important and the danger is that we come to see ourselves as irreplaceable. This is a faithless position however. God fills the emptiness and if we keep filling life up with our presence we’ll never step aside so God can come with his presence. As parents, workers, homemakers, spouses, friends and even God’s servants our longing for significance sees us want to be needed. But I’m not the pastor of the church because I’m needed but because I’m invited. It’s the same with other roles, even parenting. I am a dad and my engaged presence makes a positive difference to the lives of my children I trust, but it’s still an invitation. I am invited every day to take up my roles of father, husband, pastor, friend, son and neighbour. If I don’t take up those roles then God will fill the emptiness, but I will be the one who misses out. I’m not irreplaceable but I have been invited into a life that God has for me.
So it’s time for you to have a think. Do you see yourself as irreplaceable? Is that what you’ve been striving for? What would it mean to look at your different roles and see them as invitation instead of duty? It’s very easy for our roles to consume us and for those roles to become who we are. But my identity is not found in pastoring or parenting but in Christ. In his life I am found as a son and as a friend. I am found forgiven, restored and free. This means that when I am invited to take up the roles assigned to me I take them up as a son of the Father and an intimate ally of the King. It also means I can drop the roles that I’m not invited into. It is a life of freedom borne out of intimacy. That’s the ultimate invitation.