Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a "valued leader" for God's mission in the Church and in the world. I think that all people are valued and valuable, so what exactly does it mean for us who are in seminary to be working toward becoming a valued leader? Valued by whom? And how are we going to quantify or qualify the amount of value we have?
Some of the people I think are extremely valuable are people that others might think are completely expendable, or troublesome.
Society likes to tell us that we are defined by what we do. When we meet someone for the first time, often one of the first questions asked is, "What do you do?" But more importantly, aside from simply saying that you are a student or an airline attendant, or a pastor, or a sanitation engineer, or whatever, I think this question is getting more at the question, "What do you find valuable?" Or it could even be asking, "Who do you find valuable?" For example, what would the difference in thought be if you were to meet someone who said they were a CEO at a Fortune 500 company and someone who works with the Peace Corps or Doctors without Borders or whatever? I'm not saying that all CEOs are heartless jerks, but to me, different "personalities" are conjured when I think of these two occupations.
Anyway, what I'm meaning to say is, "How can we be valued leaders if we do not value each and every single person who comes into our lives; even if 'only' on the periphery?" If I see a classmate or seminary mate who is obviously extremely upset about something that is a big "hot button" issue, do I sit back and play the political game by not identifying with or comforting my schoolmate, or do I reach out with compassion and grace? And if I do play it political style, what does that say about me? Especially if no one else is reaching out either. What is that saying TO the person who is upset? "You don't count because you are at the root of this problem!" is what I think it says. And that's unfortunate. Really, it's more than unfortunate; it's sad and it's disgraceful because Jesus Christ did not come targeting any specific group (except for sinners, which is all of us, friends).
How can we be valued leaders if we're not cultivating the ACTUAL practice of grace and compassion? If we're trying to "play the game" to the extent that we are not ministering to people, but we're ministering at our own discretion and for our own gain?
Maybe I'm being naive, but I'm just thinking that when I start letting people tell me who I can and cannot minister to, I'm becoming irrelevant. I reckon that I'm going to continue to pray for those who are marginalized, and pray that my own inadequacies and shortcomings might be brought to my attention so that I might work on addressing them. Peace out for now, y'all.