I spent last Friday and Saturday in Middlesbrough at the inaugural Medhurst Ministries Weekender. I was part of a panel discussion (which I forgot I was meant to be on until shortly before we were doing it) in which we were asked questions about Medhurst and the reality of ministering in communities like ours in Oldham. I understand the discussion is going to be on the In Context podcast soon.
One of the questions we were asked was, ‘what keeps you serving when things are hard?’ Of course, the “right answer” is Jesus. We only stay here because of Jesus. That much is obviously true. And some of the lads said exactly that.
I was the first to break cover and – as much as that answer is true – it isn’t the immediate one that came to my mind. I may have said it with a bit of a wry smile, but I was telling the absolute truth when I answered. We were asked what kept us doing the work and I said – completely honestly – ‘what else am I going to do?’
Aside from being entirely unqualified to do anything else, and frankly being altogether unemployable – both of which are almost certainly true – what else would you have me do? As difficult, hard and sometimes dispiriting as the work can be, what would anybody suggest I do otherwise? What job – even if everyone was willing to have me – am I going to prefer in reality?
More to the point – just as the Apostles asked – to whom should we go? Jesus has the words of eternal life – who else can put that on their job description? And what job is going to fulfil us more? Fair enough, if we aren’t coping and we need a change of speed, there’s no shame in that at all. But what, in all honesty, has more importance than telling people the life-giving news of the gospel and serving the people of God so they know him and love him more fully as they were created, by the creator of the universe, to do? You got a better job than that for me?
I can certainly think of easier, less stressful, quieter and better paid jobs. But I’m not qualified for all of them and I’m not interested in other ones of them. Somebody pays me to read the Bible, teach it to people and talk to them about Jesus. What else am I going to do? Much like Peter, what keeps me here – among other things – it is this same thing:
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”John 6:66-69
Seems legit to me.