A few months ago I found myself sort of reviewing my ministry resume. I was thinking about all the places we served, the various age groups we ministered to, and the different types of positions that we filled. It was prophesized over us one night at a regional youth camp many years ago, that we were “nails” that would hold up a variety of needs in the churches we were are part of. Needless to say, as Assistant Pastors our main role was to serve the Pastor and within that calling we performed many different types of duties such as Praise and Worship leaders, Youth Pastors, Children’s Pastors, preaching in the Senior Pastor’s absence, counseling, cleaning restrooms and mowing lawns!
In counting up the time that we specifically spent in each of the main responsibilities we have held, it was close between Youth and Children’s ministry, but our time in Youth work edged ahead by about one year! For a ten year span beginning in the mid-nineties we were heavily involved in Children’s ministry. One of the central goals in everything we did with the kids was to assure that they had fun in anything they were involved with at the church! We wanted them to always associate their time with God with positive, loving, trustful and enjoyable memories.
In order for this to happen I always strove to make sure that every Sunday morning service and special events were planned to perfection. The few hours that we spent at church on a Sunday morning was a culmination of the countless hours I spent in preparation during the week. Our last assignment was difficult as I not only had to rebuild a program that had been devastated, but was without the physical and emotional support of my wife and maybe more importantly, her multifold talents and upbeat and encouraging co-leadership. Nevertheless we forged on until the pressures of her health care forced me to resign my position.
Like I said earlier, throughout the years we always attempted to excel at putting forth a vivid picture of what it means to “Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!” (Philippians 4:4 God’s Word ©) Most times when working with kids, this is a fairly easy task to perform. In the rest of your life though, this is may not always hold true! That is why I find Paul’s admonition of being joyful to the church in Philippi to be especially interesting. As most of us know, at the writing of this letter Paul was in prison not really knowing if he was going to die or not. But I heard something the other night that spurred my interest even more. It was suggested by the evangelist we were listening to on TV that many of the members of this particular church were inmates that were in prison with Paul and Silas in Acts 16, when the earthquake hit and literally and spiritually shook things up for all of those involved.
With that in mind, it would be even more evident that this church had a lot to be unhappy and angry about. Many of them were most likely treated very harshly at the prison, some were probably also on death row and had very little in the natural to be joyful about. Most of my commentaries like the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown state that “Joy is the predominant feature of this Epistle.” The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges eloquently summarizes the synopsis of this book by saying, “He leads them here above all uncertain and fluctuating reasons for joy, to Him who is the supreme and unalterable gladness of the believing soul, beneath and above all changes of circumstances and sensation.”
I think that this is another one of those black and white Christian characteristics that the Bible talks about that I mentioned in another post the other day. I discovered along the way in this journey that my wife and I have been on for the past five years, that we are also called at times to be the carrier of this joy that is overflowing from our hearts in order to bring hope to those we interact with. I’ve painstakingly learned that my attitude will most times set the mood for the medical appointments, the casual conversations with someone in the store or on the street, and even with visits with friends and family members, be they Christians or not.
In our set of circumstances we actually are dealing with a life and death situation. The daily events of most others lives do not have this potential in contrast to what Paul and many of the congregation of the church at Philippi may have been facing! So why not cast your care upon Him and throw in your lot with the only One who has the answer for ANYTHING that you and I may be facing? With that in mind, as far as I can see… the only avenue we have is to “Always be joyful in the Lord!” It can’t hurt you know… It can only help! So go out this weekend and let your ultimate trust in Him be reflected in your attitude of Joy!
Have a GREAT weekend, stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting TO BRIGHTEN UP WITH MY INFECTOUS JOY today?