How Low Can You Go?
By Mike Stickler
A number of years ago, I was invited to be a speaker at an office installation of a friend’s at his church. There is a tradition in some churches, like this particular one, when the congregation calls a pastor into leadership; they hold a formal – sometimes all day – service to celebrate that leader’s installation in to the position.
This church happened to be a poor church, in a poor neighborhood, and primarily African-American. In fact, I was the only white guy in the line-up of presenters.
As the service began, people paraded in wearing their Sunday best, beaming with excitement about the day’s activities, the promise of hearing God’s Word in this small church’s celebration of their new pastor.
I was excited, too, as the new pastor was a long-time friend, humble in spirit, dedicated to the Word, and had worked long and hard – not just in this church but also within the community. And, he was the right man for this position.
I think greed can be very subtle in today’s society. Some would interpret avarice as greed, which it is. It’s just a more extreme form of the term. But the greed I speak of here is “measured” and binds to one’s sole.
Each of the five or so speakers was seated on the stage in a large chair, reminiscent of a throne. One by one the presenters shared for about 40 minutes each on the Word and their life experiences, and then giving honor to the life of my friend.
Here is where I became uncomfortable…
After speaking, as each preacher sat down, women from the church would gather around them – literally fanning the man like you might see in the movies, and a feel of adoration began to be stirred up. After the presentations, we adjourned to the luncheon for all in attendance. At the front of the room was one table set apart from all the others, with fine dinnerware, table clothes, etc., and set apart for all the preachers in the room. Each of those same ladies was serving the men at that table.
The rest of us? We stood in a buffet line to obtain our own food.
I noticed, though a presenter and friend with the newly installed pastor, there was no seat at this particular table for me. First thought that came to me was, “Am I experiencing discrimination?” “Was I purposely being slighted?” “Did I not measure up?”
Quickly I refocused and looked at the opportunity God placed before me as I sat among the church members, laughing and fellowshipping. A fine Christian fellowship it was. Here in Romans, Paul makes it clear that we, as Christians and especially leaders in the church, should consider ourselves as servants. God’s calling is not one that is for fame or special treatment, but a life called to serving, loving, laughing and crying with the humanity surrounding us.
I think as we learn to grow in our generous lives, we need to always remember that a generous person has no elevated position. Why should they when it’s an act of service and love?
Today’s Generosity Challenge:
Have you ever stopped to realize that honoring someone sometimes is to allow them to serve quietly, humbly, and without special attention? How does today’s devotion affect the way you see generous leadership?
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About Michael Stickler
Mike is an author, radio host, and a highly sought after motivational speaker. His best-selling book, A Journey to Generosity, is widely acclaimed throughout the Christian community. He is the publisher of Generous Living Magazine and writes for the Christian Post, 'A Generous Life' column.