Day 7 —
Philippians 4: 8-9
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
It was a hot, sunny, sweaty kind of day in Jamaica. Our church mission team was building a very modest home for a Jamaican family under the supervision of a local pastor named Arthur. Although Pastor Arthur had built hundreds of these small homes, he listened patiently to our team’s unnecessary advice about how to build this house better.
We made several mistakes that required creativity to correct, as building materials are precious. Finally, one mistake too many caused Pastor Arthur to stop working, lay down his hammer, and with a look of pure frustration he began to sing,
“Thank you God for giving me all I need, a roof overhead and shoes on my feet.”
There were many other words of thanks in his song, and when he finished, he sang it again. Then with a smile on his face, he picked up his hammer and went back to work. God’s peace was with Pastor Arthur and, through him, with the whole team.
I was speechless when he finished. I was prepared for him to vent his frustration; I thought we all deserved a little venting. I was totally unprepared for the discipline that Pastor Arthur practiced in reminding himself that he had been blessed by God with great abundance, and he could afford to extend grace to us. Pastor Arthur practiced living all that is lovely, holy and worthy of praise as Paul teaches.
Experiencing moments like this transforms the way we live together as the Body of Christ for the world. Each time I am able to remember Pastor Arthur and respond to others with grace, focusing not on the frustration but the power of God’s blessings, peace is in me and in the situation. This is the recipe for true congregational excellence.
Oh God, today remind us that the frustrations of life together are small in comparison to the blessings you have given the Body of Christ. Help us to live from that truth, focusing on all that is holy, just, pure and lovely and, with thanksgiving, dwell in your peace. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Intentional Discipleship Action Team, Memphis Conference