Think “Smoker” not “Microwave” Dealing with Ministry?

article_images-11_27_OR_Think_Smoker__Not_Microwave_919073857My microwave has this very useful ability to bring food back to life; like, oh, store bought baked goods for example. Have you ever noticed? It’s just better if you pop them in the microwave. You know, nuking it? If you get some of that store bought coffee cake or donuts or muffins, you know, they may not be like fresh from the bakery. But we found that they are so much better if you heat them up. What happens is the heat makes them softer. The other day I had a cookie that was getting a little on the old side, and I put it in the microwave and it was like it came right out of the oven – soft and warm. Sometimes the box will even tell you that you ought to “nuke it.” And sometymes it will say, “Better when heated” or something like that. Actually, that would be true of about half of the human race.

We act like we need to microwave everything.

It’s amazing how subtly our thinking can be shaped. It has been said that we live in a society with short patience and high demands. This combination creates an approach where we want what we want right away. The above quote is an indication of this. It was made to me by a brother I have a great deal of respect for. And he was referencing my desire for a quick turn for implementation on everything, particularly ministry-related items. His point, which has made more of an impact over tyme than it had originally, was that we don’t have to be impatient and rush everything. There is tyme to think it through.

This is very tough for me. When I become convinced of a course of action or when I come up with an idea I just want to go. And go quickly. I have found that this microwave approach seeps into everything. This can be helpful when you need to make a decision and deploy some people for problem solving but it can be dangerous when thinking about the mission of the church.

Let’s take the core mission of a church. We are to make and train disciples (Matt. 28.19-21). By nature is this difficult work. While there is a recipe for this (Eph. 4.11-15) there are a lot of variables (2 Cor. 10.3-4). We cannot zap someone in the spiritual microwave and in 30 seconds have a mature Christian. There is a lot of sweaty human faithfulness and divine power that needs to be expended in the work of the church. This takes tyme.

We live in a microwave society. Everything about our world is geared toward speed: fast food, drive through windows, instant coffee, microwave meals, high speed internet….. We want what we want, when we want it. We also want it easy. Fast and easy, that’s our motto in this day and age. Don’t make us have to work for it, or make it inconvenient. And above all else, don’t make us wait for it!

But God is not a microwave God. He has all eternity at His command; He isn’t interested in instant gratification or making things easy for us. He is interested in patiently shaping and molding us, into the likeness of Jesus. He’s in it for the long haul. He is far more interested in making things that last than in making them fast! God also isn’t interested so much in making things easy for us as He is in making us ultimately better. He is more concerned with our eternity than with our “here and now”. He is far more concerned about our growth as Christians than about making life easy for us.

Instead of thinking of Christian ministry like a microwave we should think like a smoker. We add the rubb, let the meat sit, put it in the smoker and trust the process. In ministry we should do the work and trust the process. It takes tyme, it is hard, and frankly, it is humbling–but this is the way God does it! There is tremendous freedom in trusting the process.

First of all, you don’t have to reevaluate every other day to make sure you are up to date. If you are being faithful, you are up to date.

Second, you are freed up to pray. Nothing will drive you to pray like the feeling that you need God. It is his process. It is his design. It is his work that he calls you to.

Third, it makes it all taste better. You can microwave a plate of ribs (good luck with that), or you can smoke them. Let it go. Watch, wait, taste and enjoy. God is at work according to his means and for his glory.

We don’t like it when we don’t see instant results, and we don’t like it when we don’t get our own way. But we have to believe God, not just believe in God. He never calls us to do anything that He does not give us the power to do, through His Holy Spirit. Believing Him requires putting our faith to work, by being obedient and doing what He tells us. Believing God requires patience. It requires that we keep on doing what we know we should, simply because we know that He is faithful, (see Heb. 10:23) and will do what He has said.

Beside who like Microwave Spare Ribs or Chicken?

*Photos/Resources: Tejado W. Hanchell & Erik Raymond

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