Leftovers for God? Is that a smart way to go?

Yea the Blackabys have inspired me to get this written, it’s been sitting for awhile, but the blanks have been filled in. It’s about how we give God the leftovers, if that. I’m not innocent of this, as I lay person I didn’t have an appreciation for what goes on at a church while I’m not there and didn’t feel as motivated as I should to give the very best. The Blackabys point out”When the Israelite gave an offering to God, it was no longer their own, it belonged entirely to God. God would only accept the best that people could give. It was an affront to almighty God to offer him animals that were damaged or imperfect in any way. God Himself set the standard for sacrifices when He offered His own Son as the spotless lamb.”(Experiencing God Day by Day Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby p 268).

Certainly to the point they write “You do not serve Him in your spare time or with your leftover resources.” Yea, as a pastor I really do feel it. Too often “hey here’s five in the offering plate, great service.” Try to imagine how that makes me feel. I really do try to make worship as uplifting and yes challenging as possible. Compare that to the therapist/counselor who charges, just you, a lot more. I’m there to push you to grow in Jesus, to make the best for Him for what He’s given you and to also push myself. I have some great folks who help me, but too often you just hear about how the big box church has produced some massive show for about one-tenth your total annual budget for one Sunday.

But for the most part, it’s about people’s soccer games (a general reference to all the other things going on Sundays. Really?! Sunday? Morning? seven days in the week, you can’t reserve half a day, read give or take three hours?) To be there to lift up praise and worship to God Father, Son and Holy Spirit who created you, sustains you and gives those in Jesus the promise of eternal life? How about the other folks that do rely on church for encouragement, often times just to see younger people and interact and encourage others. Few if any there to encourage them, because they’re working, they’re traveling, they’re at sports or some other event, they’re at home because they had a tough week. Yes, maybe three Sundays out of 52 (not including weekday worships, which I miss even more rarely), I am there the rest of the time really trying my best. No I’m no Chuck Swindoll and I’m always looking for feedback. However I’m also working hard to faithfully worship as millions have for 500 years and millions do around the world today. That is a faithfulness that can’t be matched by any of our current fads, that just have to be on Sunday morning.

I get it, people do travel, people do other things. But clearly the priority is no longer church, worship, their pastor, their fellow congregants. People tell me all the time they’re going to meet with me, they’re going to come to church. Gotten to the point where it seems, unless of course someone wants something, that about 80% of the time what they say is bupkus. So much for integrity. My wife says they just tell you what you want to hear. Really how about just tell me the truth? It’s far more disillusioning when someone tells me something that they will do and don’t, then just telling me the way it is. I’m a big, tough, ugly, gnarly guy, you’re not going to hurt me with the truth. But wow, when people say they’ll be there, do something, support something and don’t because there is something more interesting going on elsewhere, it really does beat you down and yea does hurt. Really what I do isn’t interesting and challenging?

Hey, to be sure I’m not going to stop. There are Christians through history and all around the world who are going through far worse than I am and I’ve made promises to the church, to the congregation to do as much as I can. I feel very strongly the need to be able to tell someone I did all I could, probably more for Christ and His church. Yes, there may come a time when I may have to sacrifice a lot more. For now I can look you in the face and say I have every intention of being faithful to my vows, for working hard 6+ days a week. For those who have become church members, you might also want to remember that you made vows to be a member to support the church with your time, treasure and talent. From 13 year old confirmands to those who come to Christ later in life. Way too many just pooh-pooh those vows. (As far as time, for most of you a two day weekend is a given, for me, it’s a holiday. If I have one day that is truly about me and my family, that’s even pushing it. I can’t remember the last time that I had a three day weekend. Hasn’t been in the last year.)

How about it? For those who have never gone, maybe you should get over yourselves and see what it’s all about. For those who have a “sawtooth” pattern, if that regular, maybe you could step it up about 50%, maybe everyone could do a little more in all respects to the time, treasure and talent? “But I’m so busy!” I will compare Day-Timers with anyone out there, you’re not that busy. Giving the best to God? I’ve had people who haven’t been in church in decades, members, who call me and expect that because of some, usually tragedy, that I’m supposed to now jump for them. There are people who’ve supported that church for decades, so that I could be there, but you didn’t, now I supposed to jump for you? And for those who like to give me that patronizingly little pat on the head “oh it will all work out”, no, no it won’t. And you won’t like it.

I am privileged to work with a handful of people at my church who can say they do. But for the most part, the rest just give left-overs and for too many people pretty scraggly left overs. So yea, this is a challenge, especially to the guys. Let’s see you step up and really lead your family in Christ, start by showing up, listening to what needs to happen, being that disciple of Christ that your wife, children, community, employers will be forever grateful for, as well as your brothers and sisters in Jesus, you will be great and I will be there to do whatever I can to make you that guy. Lose the lame excuses and step up to things of eternal value.

3 thoughts on “Leftovers for God? Is that a smart way to go?

  1. Melissa

    I’d love to see you write an answer to this. As a working mother of three, I am constantly trying to figure out how to always put Him first. I rise an hour early everyday for bible study and recently became an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. The problem I find is that it is exhausting to live in two worlds and as much as you try not to, the tide keeps on pushing you back. Just love to hear some practical advice, would appreciate what you would have to say.

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    1. Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church Post author

      I get the feeling that you are, at least kind of, a Type A, have a bunch of stuff to do, family, job?, grouchy husband like me (my wife would say that), it seems clear that you do contribute. So my rant is not aimed at someone like you, you’re one of the small percentage. Frankly we are a like, we are trying to do a church renewal at an old down town church, despite the efforts of some, too many have just been spectators, they really haven’t contributed, but expect to take. Economics tells us that model can’t be maintained. For those who contribute, sure, step up, really do what you can to serve the Lord, and sometimes there is going to be some crazy stuff, we do need to be reminded that there are times we do need to cutback. We are told to keep the Sabbath, well as a pastor my Sabbath can’t be on Sunday. Being in the military for 29 years my Sabbath couldn’t always be on Sunday, but there has to be a Sabbath. I’m not good about it either. Monday’s supposed to be mine. I still try to get some things done, writing this post being one. You do need to set some boundaries. I commend your move into ministry (although I’ve never heard the term before), it might be a little more than God wants you to take on at this time. Unless this is something that is moving you into some kind of vocational ministry, I might set some serious boundaries on your service there. I assume you are single?? You have to provide? You certainly do need to care for your children. Your vocation, certainly according to Luther would be in your job, and as a mother. Your children will grow up fast, they need care now and God has trusted them to your care. If you don’t have to work (that is there are two incomes), you might put that on hold until the children are older. You should talk to your pastor directly and tell him that you’re overwhelmed and help him to work out more structured service for you. If I had a half-dozen like you, as a pastor, I would be so much more effective as a pastor. I don’t think my comments were aimed at you. Too often Type As feel that it’s never enough, never fast enough, etc. The Father doesn’t want that for us, He knows your service and may be a little grieved that you are pushing yourself beyond what He really wants from you. Please don’t feel pressured for more-more. You can’t let the world push on you, recognize where the Holy Spirit is guiding you and push the world away. Too many pastors I’ve seen try to be people pleasers vs doing what is pleasing to God and not stopping the world from forcing themselves into things that the Holy Spirit doesn’t want them to do. I get it, you will take some heat, but letting the world side-track you, even beat you down to separate you from God is not where you want to be. Yea, I could go on and on, I appreciate you placing your trust in me to ask and if there’s anything I can do please stay in touch. May God richly bless you and give you His comfort.

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      1. Melissa

        I am married and we both work. I’d love to talk to you some more, just get your insight. Your blog is very honest and I really admire that. My email is mzpresser@gmail.com if you have some time to chat about the subject of vocation.If not that’s ok too, I know you are very busy!

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