July 07, 2016

Lessons from the Cemetery

It is interesting that in our family, we have a complete set of ministers. I, being the pastor, Thammie’s uncle is a priest, and one of our Lola is a nun. Yesterday, we buried the remains Lola Madre or Sister Charing in the niche garden of Christ the King Seminary. Thamme blogged about her here. Sister Charing lived a long full life and was dearly loved by her peers and students at Holy Spirit College.

Yesterday, during the funeral, (it was my first time to see a funeral that involves a full-time Catholic clergy), we were surrounded by hundreds of niches of priests and nuns. As we looked around, we noticed some patterns on what was written in the memorial markers cemented on the niches.

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The Memorial Marker of Sister Charing

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We saw a number of Centennials like this sister who died at the age of 102.

I was able to interview a sister about the memorial markers and some observations that the #sycreatures (Thammie, Alyanna and Mika) realized yesterday.

  1. Doing ministry work should not be as stressful as what some would want us to think. 

There is a real ministry burden that a pastor or a minister carries with him/her. But as Christians, we are commanded by God to cast all our cares and burdens upon him for God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.

1 Peter 5:7Amplified Bible (AMP)

casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].

Matthew 11:28-29 Amplified Bible 

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.

Therefore we cannot make an excuse that I am burnt out. Burning out in ministry is a sign that we try too many things on our plate that we cannot handle or what God has not called us to do. It is sad to see many pastors sacrifice family, health and relationships in the altar of ministry.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s ministry work, my wife, or my kids should understand.”

I think they won’t know. Leaders we must know when to stop and when to go. We must ultimately know that I need to cast my burdens in the Lord. Remember God’s yoke is easy and light.

2. Before you get the job, you will be tested.

Notice the first vow and the final vows. I asked a nun what it meant, and she described how as you enter into ministry, there would be a six-year process in the past. She said that the Catholic church made it a little longer now and moved it up to 8 years so that a sister maybe really sure if she will go through the test or not.

This applies not only to ordinating ministers or bestowing sisterhood to nuns but all kinds of leadership. There will be a time of testing for you. The New Testament gave us guidelines and qualifications for eldership. What that means is that you will be tested if you have the skill, character, and commitment to the job at hand.

Can I also say that I find it hard to believe that some people think that if I can’t find a decent job, I’ll just enter the ministry? Ministry is not for the weak of heart. It is hard work. In some ways, it is a thankless job. A minister needs to find his source of affirmation, identity and security not on the people he is leading but in Christ. So don’t think that making ministry as your career is the easy way out of incompetencies in the real world. Ministry is as real as it can be.

In leadership, we will be tested.

1 Timothy 3:10 Amplified Bible 

10 These men must first be tested; then if they are found to be blameless and beyond reproach [in their Christian lives], let them serve as deacons.

3. Stay healthy, minister longer. 

When I saw the average age of death in the garden, I was amazed to see how living until 90 was average for most of them. It takes a life of living healthy, eating healthy and having the relational health to stay long on this earth.

Get out of the couch and do something that matters. Watch what we eat. Live healthy. Exercise regularly. Prepare ourselves for the battles of leadership by being sharp and healthy.



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