Ministering as if already dead

I heard an essay/interview on NPR last night about a soldier in Iraq who suffered from post-traumatic stress. One of the things that he said which really flooded me was that he became much more effective as an officer when he had resigned himself to the fact that he was going to die in Iraq, and to stop worry about the future. Simply do what needed to be done that day, and try to save as many of his men as possible.

Is there a parallel with the Christian faith? Particularly with the Holy Ministry. Here’s what I think may be a good comparison and a bad comparison:

The good comparison is that we should live our lives here on earth without worrying about the future. Matthew 6, etc. We have died in holy baptism. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3). Understood properly, this frees us to be divinely reckless with the gifts which our Lord gives us today, knowing that he will provide for all things.

The bad comparison is to believe that since we have already lost the battle (we will die) that we might as well simply slog through it, but there is no life at all.

Been there? Either one or the other? I know I have.


One thought on “Ministering as if already dead

  1. Yes, and it’s a fight to not be in the realm of the bad comparison.

    I wonder if we couldn’t also relate the officer’s insight and our own role to what I saw on ESPN this week about steroids in Major League Baseball. The segment I saw focused on either a team doc or a trainer (can’t remember what he was) who worked during the 80s and 90s and saw it happening (including a AA guy with no hope for major league success show up to spring training completely buff and able to hit for power all of a sudden.) But this guy being interviewed at the time would not confront any of the players about it. Joe Torre echoed the same. They were afraid that it would shut down communications and the players would stop coming to them. In other words, they were afraid of killing the relationship. So they said nothing to the players about their steroid use.
    If they had resigned themselves to the fact that some of these relationships were already dead, would they have been much more effective in their roles of managing/helping players? If we in the OHM would resign ourselves to the fact that some of the members of our congregation already have made dead their relationship with God, and made dead their ears and heart to His Word which we speak, would that make us better able to serve them in the end? Maybe yes – but only if we lose our focus on the joy that is set before us; only if we do not think “we have already lost the battle” and give up on the Holy Spirit.

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