The people's voice of reason

A More Excellent Way

He was deacon chairman in the church when I became the pastor. I was young and impressionable, and he made an impression on me. I still quote Horace, though he's been in heaven for many years, when I jokingly refer to the Sunday worship guide as the "bullington" as he did. Horace had a sense of humor, but everyone knew he loved the Lord and his church.

One day his wife Ruth told me the season of the year we were in at the time--summer--was particularly hard for Horace. I asked her what she meant, and she reminded me it was nominating season in the church, and Horace often found himself on the nominating committee. Then I understood.

Baptist churches begin their new church year in September or October, so the middle-to-late summer is the time we busy ourselves trying to staff organizations for the new year. And it can be a frustrating time. Some treat their volunteerism like a prison sentence: "Preacher, I've served my time," they say. What they mean is something else is now more important than this job. Then we try to "guilt trip" them into working one more year.

Nevertheless, I often lament that we do God's work in this way--putting square pegs in round holes--as the church is often accused of doing. There ought to be a better way.

The Apostle Paul insisted in 1 Corinthians 12 that God has given a "charismaton" to every Christian (v. 4). The word is based on the Greek word for grace, and it's translated "spiritual gift." Sometimes we equate the charismata with the tongue-speaking gift, but Paul labeled all gifts "charismaton." Thus all Christians are charismatic since all have spiritual gifts for service to the body of Christ, the church.

And it's in this context that Paul used two familiar analogies. He imagined a civil war in the body when the ear decided it wasn't as important as the eye, so it stopped working. And in the same way, the foot grew weary of playing second fiddle to the hand and decided to stop working (vs. 15-17). His point is that every member of the body is important and without every part in operation the body is impaired. And this is true in the spiritual body, the church.

The better way to operate might be to help people discover their gifts and to encourage them to obediently use those gifts in ministries. After all, serving the Lord is not only a privilege, but it's also designed to bring fulfillment and joy.

The better question might be, "How we can effectively use your spiritual gift in the advancement of God's work through our church?"

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church's website is


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