WITH GRATEFUL HEART
On my www.paulclarkjr.com blog today I have posted a reminder to do more than count your individual blessings, but rather, to live thankful lives. At the same time, part of my own thankfulness this week surely cannot help but focus on the joy of serving among Tennessee Baptists in the very area of ministry that should help our spirits of gratitude more than any other. Today I am reflecting on some of the events of this past year that have run the proverbial gamut from moments of joyous celebration to scary moments of fear and trepidation spent with different ones of you who serve in worship and music ministry. Obviously, our times of celebrating years of ministry anniversaries, surprise appreciation parties, and notorious service recognitions rank high on the “most fun part of my ministry” scale. The privilege of standing next to many of you, whether I am addressing your church family or just standing in the receiving line, is heartwarming and enriching to my own life. I absolutely love it! It is never a chore or “just a job.” To the contrary, I believe these sort of recognitions give voice to relationship models that I feel I am called to trumpet to others. Your churches, pastors, and music ministry personnel serve as models to others who NEED TO KNOW what a good thing it is to thank those who serve us in worship and music ministry. I love celebrating the glad times with you.
No less a humbling privilege, however, have been the times of praying for and with you in the loss of a family member, or through the fear of awaiting medical test results, or preparing for surgical procedures that have life or death consequences. I am filled with thankfulness to be privileged to hold the hand of one of your family members, or to try and lighten the atmosphere around your “kids” as you walk through difficult times. Listening to your hardships of ministry challenge can be challenging to me, as I am prone to want to “fix it,” when, truth is, there is usually little I can do beyond listening, and of course, praying. Perhaps most perplexing is when there are relationship issues with pastor or people, and I sense your hurt in such matters. Quite often I find my prayers include just crying out to the Lord on your behalf that you might know again the joy of fruitful ministry. We know that suffering is part of our ministries, and we have the perfect model before us to help us know how. To watch a brother or sister suffer in ministry context reminds me just how powerless I am and thus fully dependent on the Spirit. Regardless, I am grateful to have the opportunities to be “in it” with you. It is every bit as high an honor to take you to lunch, sit in your office, or meet you at Starbucks to share the pain, express my love and represent your brothers and sisters in ministry from across the state. And for such, I am deeply grateful. I am grateful to you for your confidence and friendship to reach out for the relationship, and grateful to God that He has called me to such a ministry of presence – in good times and bad.
In this Thanksgiving season I am reminded to live a thankful life, and I need look no further for inspiration toward that life than the joy of serving among you, my brothers and sisters in worship and music ministry. May the Lord be praised through our shared lives and ministries!
For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child
Friends on earth and friends above; for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
Folliott S. Pierpont