Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ego and Ministry, Me vs. my Better Self

I often joke that the last thing any clergyman wants to do is upset the choir.  I joke because it's just too dangerous to say something like that without a smile and a self-deprecating chuckle.

I know, my mom was in the choir.  She once left her Parish because she was highly insulted by something someone said about her singing, spent a year lending her talent at another Parish, and only returned to good old St. Thomas' when they begged her to return.

There are lots of ministries in the church.  There are lots of activities to the glory of God.

The danger of Ministry, the danger of volunteerism, is when one defines himself / herself by the work.  A person becomes the work and prefers to be known by the title, the raison d'etre becomes the raison d'autre.  The ego defines us.  We clutch tightly until it hurts, we get angry when people don't recognize our selflessness, we continue on grudgingly, we burn out.  As a good friend reminded me, nowhere in the Bible does it say "burned out to the glory of God!"

Here's a simple test to see if we've fallen into the trap.  What if your Pastor told you he wanted you to consider volunteering your talents to something other than what you're doing?  What if you were asked to stop singing in the choir and join the St. Vincent de Paul society instead, or more to the point, what if you always sing the Psalm and you were asked to let someone else sing "your" solo?  What if you were asked to step aside from heading up Sunday school to working in a support situation for another?

Sure, it would hurt at first.   That's natural, our egos take a bit of a bruising from time to time.   But when we're ready to quit the Parish or volunteer organization because of a perceived insult like these, maybe we're holding on just a little too tightly and for the wrong reasons.  That's a hard lesson to learn.

That's a great lesson if we can learn it.  God willing some day I will, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment