A Pastoral Warning with Personal Applications
No, I am not a pastor – nor do I have “a ministry.” However, several points Tim Keller made recently to pastors have some practical applications to my daily life, and my recovery.
[Christian], [recovering alcoholic], consider all the things God has done to break your pride. Look at all the ways he’s brought you to the end of yourself so that you would cling to him more tightly. Let all your failures and disappointments and weaknesses drive you like a nail into the love of God. It’s only by embracing them that you’re ever going to become a true minister and make it to the finish line. Three Ways Ministry Can Make You Conceited ~ Tim Keller
Being brought to the end of myself is a pithy description of life in Christ and in recovery – pastor, ministry leader, or wandering lamb, or old timer in the program.
He must increase, and I must decrease. (John 3:30)
The first requirement is that we become convinced that any life lived on self- will can hardly be a success. Chapter 5, AA Big Book, page 61
A Personal Warning
People, places, and things still rub me the wrong way, and my pride and self-will flashes up; I forget too quickly, it’s not my job to change anybody but me. And even that is not my job. God’s the only One who can change me. I can either cooperate, or keep doing the same things, hoping for a different outcome.
Remember those annoying civil defense announcements on radio and television that begin, This is a test? I ignore them. Only once, the announcement was not a test – it was a warning of a possible tornado. You had better believe I paid attention, and followed instructions!
God knows I still can project my own agenda on people and the situations – I can see it others – I can’t spot it so quickly in me, until I “hear,” This has been a test . . . brought to you by your Higher Power to see how you apply what you learn.
Being rubbed the wrong way, then, may simply be nothing more than an opportunity to practice the principles of faith and recovery.
Pop Quizzes in Real Life
Peter got several pop quizzes testing his proclamations – so, did all the disciples come to think of it. Even Judas did.
I remember reading from the Grapevine a story of WWII soldiers, new in recovery on the battlefield, far away from any meetings, who maintained sobriety, because they practiced the principles of recovery in hellacious times.
Drawing from a point Tim Keller made – the “rubbing” – or, clashing with people or life – hurts.
“. . . It’s going to make you a hard pharisaical hypocrite or it’s going to turn you into a softer, more tender person because it forces you to go to the throne of grace and to beg the Lord for help in your weakness. The [experiences] will either drive you to him or drive you away from him. Like Judas, you choose what life you care for. “
These tough times are either going to propel me to a meeting or a dry drunk – or a drink. The choice is still mine.