‘What do you do?’ is often a question that is asked of people you meet or indeed of yourself. I guess as we get older we still ask it but people don’t ask it of us as they are assumed we are retired. When I am not in the church environment and people ask me what I do they are often a little shocked when I tell them I am a Christian minister. Only this week someone said when I told them I had only been in the ministry for nine years and previously in banking for twenty seven years, that it was such a contrast in career. I remarked to them that some of the skills I learned in banking have been very useful in ministry and perhaps more importantly that whilst in the bank I was a Christian minister in action, if not in title.
However, when I wear my dog collar folk don’t ask what do you do, as the collar is a giveaway but like with any role nobody knows totally what you do unless they have done it. It is so easy to generalise about what we think any job entails. To prove this is true or otherwise ask someone what they do and then find out more about what they actually do each day and what it entails.
I wonder how many of us if asked what we do would say I am a Christian? And then if a second question came so what do you actually do as a Christian, I wonder how you would respond? Would your answer change if it was Jesus who asked you the question? I believe as disciples we are all called to ministry, as we are able and equipped by God. Indeed, our denomination is based on the belief of the priesthood of all believers.
Pentecost was a time that highlights that whatever we do as Christians, God will not leave us to do it alone but will send the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to give us the skills, the strength, the confidence, the endurance, the motivation etc., to do God’s will. Again if you need proof of this look at those times in your life or others where you/they have done things that seemed beyond you/them. Look at those times when you have said yes to God even though you wanted to say no. Look at how you have been guided in your life’s difficult decisions to make the right choice. Look at the times when you have been at rock bottom and you have pulled through.
We believe in a God who filled the first disciples, as recorded in Acts, with the Holy Spirit and they ‘…began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.’ Acts 2.4 and just as much, we are filled today by that same Spirit to do things perhaps we never imagined.
I know that to be true in my own life. I am a confident strong character but that would not be enough to face some of the challenges of being a minister but with the Holy Spirit I believe I can face what comes my way. That said, there are times when I feel deeply challenged and yes inadequate but God seems to show me a way and supports me in those searching periods.
I pray that this reflection may ring true in your life and that together in whatever we do, we know we do it in the strength of the Holy Spirit and may the Pentecost we have celebrated encourage a renewal for us just as the first one was for those virgin disciples.
Your friend and servant