Easter 2017 is now history. I know that Easter services are a lot of effort and hard work. There is much planning and praying and coordinating. Most of those who showed up two weekends ago have no idea all what it took to make Easter happen at your church. It is a weekend where we work really hard to put our best foot forward in hopes that people in our community will have a powerful encounter with living Christ.
It is now in the rear view mirror and it is likely that you have quickly moved on to the next “thing”. But I want to challenge you to not move on too quickly. I’m sure there are some stories and God moments from Easter weekend that are worth lingering over. As pastors we need to do a better job with the discipline of “sanctified lingering”. We must learn how to stay “in the moment”. I have found in my life that there is increased joy when I am able to ponder and reflect and treasure the God moments.
So, in the afterglow of Easter what unexpected gift do you need to linger over today?
Let me suggest one that you might consider.
How about lingering over the gift of all the volunteers who gave their time to make Easter special at your church. The truth is you couldn’t pull off Easter without them. Stop long enough to replay Easter Sunday in your mind. Recall some of the faces of your congregation that helped with parking, greeting, ushering, music, decorations, children’s ministry, etc.
Would you take a moment to thank God for those in your church who aren’t just consumers, but they are contributors? They don’t just “take”, they “give”… and they give with a joyful heart.
Recently, in my time with the Lord I have been reading in the book of Luke. In Luke 4 Jesus is speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth and after he finished speaking that day, verse 22 says
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
As I read that passage I was struck by the word “gracious”. The passage doesn’t really say it, but it leads you to believe that Jesus gracious words were in contrast to the words of the religious leaders of the day. I suspect the people were used to hearing words that were harsh, demanding, and legalistic. But what a breath of fresh air that this rabbi named Jesus spoke gracious words.
I think one of the things that ought to mark spiritual leaders is that they are gracious. I believe it is one of the most endearing qualities a leader can possess. A healthy leader is gracious. A godly leader is gracious. I have learned that a person’s ability to communicate on the platform doesn’t tell me much about their godliness, but a person’s graciousness off the platform tells me a great deal about their humility and Christlikeness.
When I think of graciousness, my mind immediately goes to one pastor I knew. Olav was the poster child for graciousness. He was an older pastor from Norway. One time when Olav was attending a conference at Saddleback I invited him to dinner at our home. Even though he was well into his 70’s, I knew he would connect with my kids who were in their early 20’s and I wanted them to be exposed to one of the most gracious men I have ever been around.
When I greeted Olav at the door, he stretched out his arms and in Hebrew gave a blessing over our home and family. For the next three hours I watched him delight in our family and in the Lord. I don’t remember much about the conversation that night, but I do remember how kind and tender he was with each person in our family. Olav is that rare person that doesn’t make you want to be like him, he makes you want to be like Jesus. And, I am convinced that one major reason he has such impact is because he was masterfully gracious.
So, before you move on to upcoming week’s sermon or your church’s next project, I want to give you a challenge. Would you consider speaking gracious words to some of the volunteers who helped make Easter happen at your church? I want to challenge you to write 5 personal notes to people to say “thank you” for their help this past weekend.
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