I love the ministry because of the very interesting people I have known. My call to serve God was not enough. It was one of those church members who was what we might call a “pillar of the church” told me I needed to learn to love people. At first I did not connect with what he said.
How could I not love people? I am a true humanist. I love what human beings accomplish. I like machinery that works well. I see elegance in good working design. I appreciate art and architecture. I enjoy all forms of literature and theater. I am fascinated by the practice of philosophy and legal and governmental frameworks. Human history is interesting to me. Natural history and the paradigms of the sciences enthrall me as human endeavors. So then, how was this not loving people?
The answer is obvious to me…now. I was one step beyond the sin of idolatry. My pleasure was in the objects made with human hands and ideas from human minds. Pierre Boulle in Planet of the Apes makes the point that while some humans do great things (and I would add some do terrible things), the majority of human lives do not contribute to the annals of human achievements. What about those people? Did I really love them without accomplishments in their lives.
Thus began the long process of my second conversion. It took time. Learning to love people without a hundred colored ribbons to their credit became a work of grace in my life. I stopped believing that love was something given to the worthy. And I began to love myself and what I did…even if I did not perform the tasks well.
Once I was free from earning my own love, I was able to love people. I find most of the people in my life interesting. I have learned that I can love the people who put obstacles in my way and make life difficult for me. I can both love another person and be angry at what he or she does. Something else changed too.
My preaching and teaching styles have changed. I accept without trying to dispute the ideas of other people I find contrary to my own. I teach using authority as teacher and pastor. But, I temper it now.
A wise insurance man told me the lesson he had to learn. To do one’s work in life right, you have to love people. This is the great lesson I learned. It has made me love my ministry.