By Alex Anderson
Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church –
At a recent men’s gathering, I was asked to share some of my journey in ministry – specifically on sacrifice. At first I thought about the decades of long hours and little sleep, extending a helping hand to the helpless, working with bread crumbs for resources, but then it hit me…nobody slammed me in a corner and forced me do this. I’m the one who stood up and chose ministry for myself. I do believe ministry is a calling and not everyone is cut out for it, but I’m the one who went to the front door to answer the “call.” So then I began to ask myself the real question.
“If I chose ministry for myself, then where is the real sacrifice?”
One of my brothers is a Rheumatologist. He put in nine years of cold coffee and threads of sleep in hospital residency, fellowships and training after medical school, not to mention a small fortune in educational loans. He sacrificed and was in his thirties before he became a partner in a practice in North Carolina. Now he is unquestionably successful. So did he sacrifice or did he invest? I believe the answer is yes… for both.
For me, sacrifice is when you pursue, with red-hot passion, something for the benefit of others, but with no thought of personal payoff. But, can we really, honest-to-God do that? I mean NOT get a payoff this side of Heaven.
My saintly grandmother
When I was very young my grandmother would cook a stunning breakfast. She would bake the biggest and fluffiest butter-dripping biscuits you have ever put in your mouth. Before the crack of dawn, while everyone else was turning their pillows over to the cool side, she had been in her kitchen meticulously measuring out all the ingredients to bake her biscuits to perfection. Everyone in the family called her a saint for her early morning sacrifice to create these heavenly delights.
But hold on a minute, I learned something very interesting about my saintly grandmother. I learned that she got a powerful payoff for her early morning ritual.
One of her hearts greatest delights was when I would “hum” while eating her heavenly creations. My two year old humming delighted my grandmother to no end. And if I did not hum while eating her food she thought she had failed. Once my dad told my grandmother how wonderful the breakfast was, to which she gave a tongue in cheek reply, “If Alex doesn’t hum, then you’re full of baloney.” I did not realize the weight of my culinary critique when I was two.
My grandmother, brother and I all get something for our sacrifices this side of Heaven. Something deep in our hearts cries out to be satisfied. It’s that one thing that makes all the frustration and effort worth it. And that’s okay because there is a reason that it’s okay.
Like my grandmother, brother and many others, lifelong thriving people never pursue success. However, they do bird-dog their passion. Many of them had two undeniable realizations when they were knee-deep in their “10.” They noticed that their passion could be a slamming contribution to someone else. It may be using their hands to make killer biscuits. It may be using their minds to learn medicine, but it is always with a zeal to serve others first.
Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally. ~David Frost
The second “aha” moment that pops up is, “it’s easy”. It seems to come naturally to who you are. Your brainwork and actions tend to shape your life
for that purpose. You find yourself day in and day out getting a kick out of what you’re up to. So much so that even if no one ever paid you for it, you would still do it cause you’re having a blast.
Vacation for life
If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. ~Mark Anthony
So how about you? Are you living in your “10”? Are you having a blast? I know there could be a million reasons you are not, but why not jump ship and go for it? I mean do you really want to be sitting in your rocking chair on your front porch at 92 one day, thinking: “I really wished I had given ‘that’ a try.”?
In the hearts of all, I have put skill, that they may accomplish my plans. ~Exodus 31:6
My hope is that you go to bed every night tired instead of bored…in the hot pursuit and use of your gifts and talents…putting it on the line for those you are crazy about, your community.
To your spiritual health,
Alex E. Anderson
Author of the book, Dangerous Prayers
The Art of Sacrifice
By Alex Anderson