The other day I struck up a conversation with a person, not really a friend but an acquaintance. She was telling me how much she works. How the staff where she works drives her up a tree. And how the pay and benefits are great but she hates the job and that her health is being impacted adversely because of it. So I dared ask the obvious… “If you hate the job so much then why do you keep it?” I felt guilty for asking but it rolled off my tongue quickly. She then proceeded to inform me that she took the job as a set up for the next job. She said it would be a great resume builder to be able to say she worked for ______ (fill in the blank). Naturally I began to think about how many other people stay with a job or a task they don’t like because it’s a rung on the ladder toward something much better. Having been on the planet for a while I can see such wisdom at times. But I also began to ruminate on how dangerous this mentality could be when embraced by those in ministry. I began to think of the neglect and selfishness that would run amuck with a resume builder approach to ministry.
If John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul or dare I say Jesus himself were to apply for pastoral ministry in our churches would they be hired? Focusing on John the Baptist, I dare say he would never be hired today. No church would touch him. He was a public relations disaster. He “wore clothes made from camel’s hair, had a leather belt tied around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). Who would want to look at a guy like that every Sunday? It would make my crooked tie or wrinkled shirts look like angels wings in comparison. Would we join him after the service at Linger Longer for a heaping helping of “locust and wild honey” ? I think not!
And His message was as rough as was his dress: a no-nonsense, bare fisted, iron clad challenge: “Repent! because God is on his way.” John the Baptist (The First True Baptist) set himself apart for one task, to be a voice of Christ. Everything about John centered on his purpose. His dress. His diet. His demands. His actions.
It’s a fresh reminder for me that you don’t have to be like the world to have an impact on the world. You don’t have to be like the crowd to change the crowd. You don’t have to lower yourself down to necessarily lift someone to a higher level. And despite how it may appear with the prolific Baptist, holiness doesn’t seek to be odd. Rather holiness seeks to be like God. And being more and more like Him is what makes all the difference. He told me to tell you!