With three kids under the age of six, flu season is the most despised season in the Christian household, and with a newborn, this year was simply dreaded. We did our best to quarantine our oldest, who had a severe type of flu, from our two-month old. But as is the way with viruses, our infant, Rory, was impacted.
On a rather cold evening, we found ourselves packing up the baby to head to the ER. Rory’s temperature was steadily climbing, and it didn’t look like it was letting up any time soon. It was Friday night, so the ER was bustling with activity. At one point I told my wife I was more concerned about what Rory could contract other than what she came in with. Her fever had lessened and so we ended up leaving the hospital, but upon returning home we realized her fever had once again spiked to its highest point yet.
At one in the morning, we went to another ER that got us in right away, which was a godsend; however, we soon realized there was only one doctor and we weren’t seen until five. To say it was a long night is an understatement, so when the results of the tests the doctor ordered took hours to come in, I became unnerved. Caught at the intersection of not having slept for thirty-six hours and the hospital’s shift change, which resulted in miscommunications, I was visibly aggravated.
I decided to unload on the next hospital employee I saw. A nurse walked in the room, but before I could open my mouth, she looked at me and said, “Aren’t you the worship pastor at Calvary Church?” Her question stopped me cold. It was one of the quickest perspective checks I’ve ever had, a turn-on-a-dime reminder that whether I’m at my best or my worst, I still represent God in all I do.
As ministers, volunteers, or worship team members, we are very visible. Though we may not necessarily know every single person in the church, most of them know us—or at least, they’re watching us. Little things we do get magnified. When you lift your hands in worship, they watch; when you greet them at the door, they notice—and when, in a moment of weakness, you trip and fall, you do so in plain sight. That moment in the ER forced me to measure my behavior in every situation, in every season, suddenly very aware that when I’m tempted to focus on myself, God is still watching me.
Are your conversations away from church edifying to the body? Is what you posted on social media appropriate for the rest of the congregation to see? Is what you’re drinking going to cause someone to stumble if they saw you? No matter how lowly you think of your position at the church, remember “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14, ESV).
Jesus faced such a moment the week of His crucifixion. He was heading back to Jerusalem, aware that same crowds that would praise Him when He entered the city would be calling for His execution a few days later. He knew one of His closest friends would betray Him, and another would deny Him three times. On top of all that stress, He was hungry. When He came upon a fruitless fig tree, He cursed it and made it wither immediately (see Mark 11:12-14).
If you were reading about anyone but Jesus, you’d think He was justified in getting hot under the collar. But Jesus never got angry without a good reason. Here, He knew that figs were not in season, but He was taking one of His final opportunities to teach His disciples—and us—a lesson: we must be ready, in season and out. We aren’t Christians only when it suits us or only when things are going smoothly. Really, it’s when things aren’t going great that we are called to be His the most. That’s why Jesus told Peter to be faithful and believe that God answers prayer—He knew that God alone can give us the strength to be His under every circumstance, to be patient or forgiving or gracious as the situation calls for.
When you get rear-ended, when once again your employee doesn’t fill out the paperwork properly, when you have been up all night in the ER with your sick child, you must be ready to represent Jesus. Matthew says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).