Prayer for a Friend as He Presents

You have never had a problem presenting yourself.  You have always communicated well.  So as my friend communicates, will you?

When he walks into the room, present yourself to him as he presents himself and his stuff to others.  Calm his heart and nurture his nerves in your hand.  Make him see and hear what he should.

May every inspection that happens in that time be full of accuracy, wisdom, and practical help.  Season the words of his listeners with grace, empathy, care, and truth.  Bring them closer to each other and to beauty as they talk.

Grant that this presentation brings you glory.  Enable it to connect with the broader bigger vision of his doctoral work in powerful, effective ways.  And perfect every step in the future of this work.  Bring it to pass in a ravishing way.

In Christ’s name.  Amen.

Creating Saints

I’ve been thinking about the creation of saints, the way saints are made, and it’s been a head swirl of a time.  I’ve been both captivated and sullen, giving my ears to the interviews between Charlie Rose and leaders in the Roman church, for instance, and struggling with questions in my own ministry of what a saint looks like and how many we have and who is so far away from the word that they themselves would laugh.

It’s a basic question.  After all, I spend my days doing ministry.  I spend a lot of time pushing, coaxing, praying, encouraging, and teaching people–all because our work is about creating saints.  Not in the Roman tradition of course.  There are no robes, no newspaper articles, no banners or flags or printed billboards.  There aren’t interviews of all the people these saints have met, notes about every conversation, explanations of the details of their miracles.

There are miracles but they’re boring, unseen miracles.  They are the daily events that God must be underneath but that Presence is so far that is silly to call them by the same name.  They’re too terrestrial, these miracles.  But we make disciples in churches.  We talk to people and recognize the gifts that only God could implant.  We create saints.

And creating saints in my way of practicing is both encouraging and debilitating.  It’s draining and fun.  It’s hard and people are ungrateful while, at the same time, in some other way, there’s nothing more interesting and full and enlivening.

Creating saints brings no cameras or coverage.  There is hardly any notice of this mundane task; even colleagues may not notice or understand since our services are so specialized and context-bound.  There is less fanfare.

Creating saints means dinners away from family, vacations at weird times when they come, taking days to recover from an experience of self-giving, or never having normal Sundays, even while Sunday is the momentous occasion of remembering what it’s all about.  Creating saints is waking up with someone’s name on my tongue, someone who’s life was given to me in 2 hours and in a way that it’ll make me intercede at odd hours.  Creating saints means insomnia and isolation because of confidentiality and appreciation for a long laugh that my son just can’t control.

No one wants to see that on television.  It would be too boring, too close to real human experience.  It’d be better to read a good novel.  At least you could close the book and move on.

Faith Like Hers

Everybody needs a reason (or a couple dozen) to keep at the work that they do.  Spiritual leaders included.  Those reasons come in the form of conversations where people explain how their faith is developing, periodic check ins when a guy says something about God that sticks in you, an email where a woman says how she’s praying for you, and a host of other reminders that the work you do matters.

And then there are those moments when you get a reason for the work you do while, at the same time, being reminded of the overall point of your work.  The point, for instance, of a pastor’s work is not for that pastor to feel any particular way about his or her work.  That pastor’s work is entirely about the explicit and continued lifting up of Someone else while he himself (in my case) is changed by that Someone.

I read Ashley Moy-Wooten’s testimony a few weeks ago.  Then, she passed it to me and a few folks in our church after she posted it on Undocumented.tv, a blog focusing on how immigration is a missional opportunity for churches.  I hope Ashley’s words can remind you that God can use people that you’re around, people you’re working with and for, to reach you.  She has echoed parts of my heart in her testimony.  The faith community of God’s church has been for me how she’s describing people in her work.  God can remind you, perhaps, through her words, that there is an overall point to what you do.

When identifying that her relationships with immigrants were ways that God reached her, Ashley says,

I would have never guessed that the people I felt I was fighting for would actually end up being the biggest blessing to me that I would ever receive in my lifetime—the gift of faith and encounter with God.

She goes on to say,

What continues to astound me every day, though, is how powerful our God is, and how easily He can turn a top on the other side as it continues to spin. What many of the people I’ve worked with will never know is just how indebted I am to them.

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