Here’s an interesting couple of verses in Luke:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide my inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (Luke 12:13-14, TNIV)
Some context: Jesus goes on to talk at length about money and possessions and worry. About trust and generosity. The thrust of the passage is to be “rich towards God“…his purposes, his Kingdom.
But, if you read that reply in a certain tone, you get the impression that Jesus, as blasphemous as it might seem, was kind of annoyed with this guy. As in, “come on man,” don’t you see that there are bigger things going on here than how you divide your inheritance with your brother.
Jesus was welcoming, hospitable, and compassionate. But he was also protective of his mission and priorities. The Word did not become flesh to settle petty disputes. He knew where he was going and was not going to get sidetracked.
As ministers, leaders, pastors, we want to help people. That’s why most of us get in to this work. When someone comes to us and wants our help, our natural tendency is to say “yes”. This is the work we signed up to do, after all. But not every ask moves the mission forward…not every idea is the right idea for right now…some things people can (or need) to figure out on their own.
I find Jesus’ response strangely encouraging. But also challenging because I want to help everyone. Anyone else struggle with this?
*For the sake of full disclosure, the essence of this idea is stolen from a talk Rob Bell did in the poets, prophets, and preachers series but his emphasis was narrower, focusing on how people respond to sermons.