Monday, February 01, 2016

My Job is to Love - Eleanor Shepherd


              Many years ago, when I first began to write for publication, I thought that I would write a book called  My Job is to Love.  I never did write that book.  I ended up writing many different articles and books, including my award winner More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening.  However, recently I was again reminded of my personal life goal.  My job is to love.                   
             What do I mean by that?  In my online dictionary, a job is: ‘‘an activity such as a trade or profession that somebody does regularly for pay...’’  Is loving my trade or profession?  I think that as a pastor love must certainly be entwined in all that I do.  If I am to serve my congregation well, I realize I must first of all love them.  It is not too difficult for me to love my congregation.  After all they usually support the things I do.  They show up at church and listen to me when I speak about God.  They involve themselves with me in serving the community.  They encourage me verbally and give their tithes and offerings for the work of the church.  What is not to love about all that? 
                  To love the congregation is one thing.  To love the individuals who make up that congregation is another thing.  Each person is unique and has particular strengths and weaknesses.  That is the challenge.  I can choose to look at either their strengths or their weaknesses. Loving forces me to consider the totality of the person.  Looking only at their strengths, I can feel quite inferior and it is difficult to love those who you feel are better than you, unless you realize that you can benefit from their strengths.  As part of the same body they can do things I cannot do and we will both be better because of their contribution.  Correspondingly, if I look only at their weaknesses, I risk feeling superior and with that attitude it is difficult to show genuine love. 
Maybe that is why to love is a job.  It means I must work to keep a proper balance in my relationships with the individuals who make up my congregation.  I need to value both their strengths and their weaknesses, because we compensate for one another and together we can best do the things that will show others we love.  Jesus told us, ‘‘By this people will know that you belong to me, by the love you have for one another.’’
                  Yes, as a pastor my job is to love, and the pay that I receive is not just the salary that I receive for doing what I do, it is also a sense of accomplishing the purposes for which I was designed.  

                  My dictionary has another definition for a job.  It describes a job as a task, something that remains to be done or dealt with.  This definition reminds me that my job of loving is never finished.  Not only is my job to love my congregation.  My job is also to love those who are not a part of my congregation but who live in the community outside the doors of our church.  They are those whom we can serve with love.  Our congregation is trying to find ways that we can be the messengers of God’s love to our community.  We are doing it through helping new immigrants adjust to living in our country.  We are finding ways to meet material needs.  We are offering programs that invite them to join us in singing or knitting or Bible study to find friendship and acceptance. 

              My job to love does not end there.  It also applies to all of my relationships.My job is to love my friends and my family.  That does not mean just sending them fancy Valentines or chocolates.  To genuinely love them, means to desire their best and that might be costly and will sometimes be a tough job.  Yet the final reward can be deep satisfaction of a job well done and love reciprocated.

Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Thank you for sharing your well-thought-through insights, Eleanor. It's wonderful to see how the Lord has led you back into the pastoral harness. My, that's a significant range of ministries you and your people are involved in! Marvellous - the love of God "shed abroad" in their hearts.~~+~~

Glynis said...

Yes, Eleanor, it is easy to love when all things line up to our liking, but herein lies the challenge when we step out from the familiar and love (even our enemies!) God's kinda' good that way - he gives us lots of direction, encouragement and examples of how to do it! I've never thought of love as a job before. Interesting thoughts!

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