My family and I certainly don’t want for anything, but I would not say that we are rolling in the money. So I am not sure that trusting in my financial wealth is going to be my downfall.
But I do think that I can trust in my wealth of attaboys, my wealth of people liking me for doing the right thing. In the right circles, you can get a lot of props for being a pastor and living missionally in a run-down part of town, and I am often tempted to believe my own hype. I am tempted to believe that my obedience and my faith earns me favor with God and that favor should equal my getting all the trappings of the good life. I am tempted to believe that I deserve a break, that I deserve things more than others who do less for God.
And if I can’t have the stuff I want, then I can begin to live for the praise of others, doing the right thing, but beginning to think that I am making it all happen. Salvation and transformation becomes my job, and I become my own shepherd.
If my wealth and my worth are tied to my performance, there is little to no room for rest and Sabbath. Who can rest when there is so much work to be done, so much that God needs me to do?
I have been doing the right things. I have been offering the right sacrifices. I have been obedient. But thankfulness is far from me.
I have been obedient. I have been faithful. I have sacrificed for God. And yet other people get the blessings that I want? And yet my life feels so hard and frustrating? And yet I feel like nothing I do is ever enough? (see a theme here?)
Jealousy and criticism had become my companions, self-righteousness my comfort for the disappointment I have felt. And a lack of rest and Sabbath led to physical and spiritual exhaustion.
In many ways, I have believed that I am necessary, and if I am necessary, I have taken the Shepherd’s place.
And being the Shepherd in charge is exhausting.