Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's my real motivation?

In today's reading from Luke's gospel, Jesus has a warning for leaders. If you're like me in this, you may be thinking, "Whew! Dodged that one!" But I think that if you're reading this, you're a leader of some kind; there is a group of people where you have influence. You might not have a title like "Pastor" or "Leader" or "Chairman" or "Manager," but you have influence nonetheless. And with the influence comes responsibility.

Golly, I sound like some of my school-teachers. But maybe they were right? Anyway, Jesus has been talking about "the faithful and wise manager, who the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance" (Luke 12:42), and the reward if in store if he does good. Now here's the warning:
"But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of....
from Luke 12.45-46
... and bad things will happen. We are the servants, menservants, and maidservants, and some of us are given influence over others; we're given the responsibility to feed the sheep.

Now most of us don't beat others with our fists or slap them around, literally -- but then most of us are not in charge of groceries, either. Of course all this is metaphorical. It's a parable, right?

So what does he mean by this? Well, I think we'll see an example of it tomorrow (I peeked), but I think there are a lot of possible applications. Here's one example: Both Jeremiah and Job compare God's words to food. So, do I share the truth of God's word with my fellow-servants? Do I share it in a way that blesses them, that builds them up? Or do I do it as a show-off, in a way that puts them down?

One way is more like feeding them, another way is more like beating them.

And do I pray for people? How do I pray for them? If I pray for them where they can hear me, do I pray in a way that builds them up -- for example do I pray that the Lord will fill them with the knowledge of his will that they might please him in every way, strengthened by his power? Or do I sound like I think them incompetent and in constant need of rescue and handholding?

My motives are, of course, always mixed. Yours probably are, too. But I'll bet that if we ask God to purify our motives, he'll help us. Amen.

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