Lectionary Reading: Luke 5:1-11 (NRSV)
One of my great reluctances to answer the call to ministry was my reservation on preaching. I felt that God was calling me to some kind of church work but I didn’t think writing and presenting a paper every week of my life sounded like the kind of thing I would enjoy.
There is a lot of work involved in good preparation but there is also the sense that I would have a word from God for the people gathering on Sunday morning. Who am I to speak on God’s behalf?
I have always had a sense of allowing people to decide for themselves. I didn’t want to be the kind of leader who would order people around. People should be encouraged to live out their own destinies!
I never wanted my preaching to feel like this!
Yet, I kept close to the church. I worked as a youth minister and it was the right work for me at that time in my life. I still enjoy the time I get to spend with our youth (although I cede the cool factor to the younger clergy who are closer to their age). While I was in youth ministry, the opportunity to preach came along thanks to my good friend Van Hawxby.
I reluctantly accepted the opportunity and found out that I really enjoyed my time in the pulpit. I still like to preach but I wouldn’t say that I am worthy of the pulpit.
The idea of being “worthy” to preach is a difficult one. I think once someone assumes this characteristic, it almost becomes a disqualifying factor. This becomes the point where you begin to feel “preached at” rather than led by a fellow Christian on the same journey. So in spite of being worthy or not, good preachers answer the call as a matter of faithful response.
This same dichotomy of worthiness and faithfulness is something all Christians encounter (or should at least wrestle with).
Many times you may hear someone say, “I couldn’t teach Sunday school because I don’t know the Bible well enough.” This argument is in essence, “I don’t feel worthy to instruct others biblically.”
Others don’t want to assume church leadership on committees because they may feel they don’t have what it takes to serve.
Mission trips may lack participants because some feel inadequate to the work involved.
I’ve heard people say time and again, “I could never forgive that person for what they did.” This is said as if they would not have God’s help to do this difficult task.
The fishermen in today’s reading do not feel they are worthy to do what they are being asked to do. Yet at the same time, they clearly follow Jesus. This reminds us that grace comes to us first and whether or not we respond determines our faithfulness but it does not decide God’s love for us.
So I try to assume that I am worthy by the grace of God to fulfill my duties as a Christian. But I also try to stay humble and realize that my worthiness is not earned but granted in Jesus Christ. Some days I am better at this than others!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at precedinggrace.blogspot.com.