When I was in my twenties, I served on staff in churches because I loved Jesus. I saw older men who had begun by serving Jesus in churches, but no longer did so. They quit, crapped out, fell away, stopped, and a host of other ungenerous, unkind ways to simply sum someone else’s life.
In my fifties, I resigned from serving on a church staff. I spent more time, drained more of my soul managing an organization rather than serving or loving anyone.
In my twenties, I knew my passion for Jesus would sustain me, allow me an obedience in a long line, enable me to finish well. I still do, but the world is more complex than I understood.
I remember Larry Bethune, a pastor, saying, ” I am going to leave church work and go into ministry. ” We laughed, but now I smile quietly.
People wear you down. Churches goof up. People fail you and hurt you. You fail people, dear ones, and hurt them. You find that people and churches study their navels and loving the poor, fighting for justice, and establishing new answers to stupefying challenges missionaries face around the world, is relentlessly, witheringly, draining.
To have fire left in you in life’s autumn, it turns out, is like salvation: a gift. You should not claim gifts as if you manufactured them; you nurture them as precious bought kindnesses you could never have deserved.