by Charles Ringma
There is something very satisfying about enjoying the fruit of one’s labor. It is very satisfying to find oneself at the top of a prominent position of an organization after having started at the bottom. It is very satisfying to establish a reputation whether that be as an executive, a problem-solver, a speaker, a writer, or a community worker.
It is also very satisfying to have enough financial resources not only to be able to do what one must, but also to be able to do what one fancies from time to time. To have power, status, position, and money sits very well with us.
But there is a downside to all of this. These privileges can so captivate us that they become the controlling factors of our life. As such they prevent us from making the hard choices that involve our integrity, our need to continue to grow as persons, and the challenge of serving the wider community even at the cost of our own securities. Henri Nouwen confides this to us: ‘Too often, I look at being relevant, popular, and powerful as ingredients for an effective ministry. The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations’ (In the Name of Jesus, p. 71).
Not everyone makes this discovery. We are more inclined to think that our position, status, and reputation will enhance our effectiveness, whether that be in ‘secular’ employment or ‘spiritual’ ministry. For don’t we get opportunities by virtue of our successes, which we would never get otherwise?
There clearly is some truth to this. But there are also powerful temptations. Ambition, self-adulation, and power can also corrupt us. These make us self-seeking more than God-centered, and self-serving rather than other-person-concerned.
The key issue in all of this is to gain power over power: to become completely dependent on God’s grace as true power. In other words, we need to gain control over our success to the point of holding them in open hands and being prepared to relinquish them. We need to prepare to journey beyond our securities and experience powerlessness, in order to make the startling discovery that ministry can also come out of weakness and not simply out of what we usually think of as strength.
Devotional forwarded to you by:
UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT
NCCP Ecumenical Ministry of the Church of the Risen Lord
University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QC