“We don’t have to go far to find the treasure we are seeking. There is beauty and goodness right where we are. And only when we can see the beauty and goodness that are close by can we recognize beauty and goodness on our travels far and wide. There are trees and flowers to enjoy, paintings and sculptures to admire; most of all there are people who smile, play, and show kindness and gentleness. They are all around us, to be recognized as free gifts to receive in gratitude.

Our temptation is to collect all the beauty and goodness surrounding us as helpful information we can use for our projects. But then we cannot enjoy it, and we soon find that we need a vacation to restore ourselves. Let’s try to see the beauty and goodness in front of us before we go elsewhere to look for it.”

Henri Nouwen

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“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Continuing our discussion of the future of the American Church, I’m attempting to encapsulate my own thoughts and personal opinions about where she is headed over the course of the next twenty years or so.  In my previous post, I discussed pastor’s salaries, and how many young preacher boys come out of seminary with the idea that they will be provided with a ministry position that enables them to pastor as a full-time vocation.  Being in ministry, and knowing many young pastors, and young men and women who are being trained for ministry, full-time pastor pay seems to be a universal expectation.

But what if being a pastor meant that you worked more than one job to support your family?  I’ve done it in the past, and it is a painfully difficult juggling act!  I believe it’s also a healthy juggling act, in terms of building an effective ministry.  I pointed out that some of the pastors I’ve known over the years who have left the most enduring legacy in our local community were men who planted and led churches while also working full-time as construction workers.  In our little corner of Northeast Georgia, the primary occupation of the population is, guess what…..construction worker.  Effective pastors are pastors who are hands-on and involved in the culture around them.  They understand the demands, struggles, and joys of life of the people they minister to because they are experiencing them, as well.

I don’t have a specific problem with paying a pastor a full-time salary.  I have experienced pastors who viewed the pulpit as much a career as they did a calling, though, becoming slaves to the income they receive for their services.  This can send confusing messages to the congregation.  Pastors encourage us to get married, then charge a fee for conducting a wedding.  The most distasteful thing I’ve seen is pastors who have a set fee for conducting a funeral.  That’s just gross.

Pastors aren’t called to collect a comfortable income for doing ministry.  They are called, like the rest of us believers, to be the light of the world.

In considering the thought,   I have to think in terms of BEING light.  If  I actually AM light, then I have to consider the qualities of light in order to correctly frame the passage and apply it to the topic at hand.

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