I’m going back to a couple of previous posts in this one, and then I want to add something new.
First, Considering Others. I did say I was going to let readers know how things went from there, so here’s the update:
I think that there has been a small but permanent change in the way I relate to other people. Every so often I have something like a flashback to those weeks when I was consciously practicing to consider others as better than myself, and the reminder returns to the forefront of my mind. But even when that does not happen, there are little flickers of a warning light, which make me realise that I am about to interrupt or speak over someone (I am very bad at that still, but getting better now!), or that I am thinking that they don’t know what they are talking about (well, perhaps I am wrong and they know more about themselves than I know about them) – that is the kind of thing that crosses my mind, which never used to happen. So, there is some growing going on, in spite of me.
Secondly, after writing Different I have been more aware of the need to see others in the light of their values, their personal history, and their culture. I also have my values, personal history that has shaped me, and my culture, which have all been known to get in the way of others’ appreciation of me! (Maybe read that one again, it’s an unusual angle from which to consider the idea. Especially for me.) And to build upon this notion, which is central to the “Different” post, I had an epiphany this morning. (That’s a minister’s fancy word for saying a little light bulb lit up above my head. But it does have the advantage of being a lot shorter.) And that was that “ministers come in different flavours”.
What I mean by that is that I am not black, or female, or liberal. And “Alice” is not male, or reserved, or old. And “Paul” is not confident, dynamic, or South African. But Paul is gentle, and patient, and a wonderful pastoral minister. And Alice is loud, aggressive, and challenging. And I am learning to be caring, considerate, and faithful. God knows us all; God has called us all. Because God wants ministers of many different kinds to serve the many different needs of His Church.
I was inclined to think that I had an understanding of what makes a good minister. I was wrong. My understanding was that what I valued in a minister was what made a good minister. In the ministers of His Church, God wants a far broader range of qualities (and flaws!) than just those that I think are important. Many of us have our favourite minister or pastor or preacher in mind when we think we know what we need in our church leaders. But ministers come in different flavours, and if we are to be one whole body, then we need them all. A church needs ministers of different qualities at different stages of her life. We are all equally valuable to Christ’s Church.