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Arise and Shine (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13)

If I were a gambler, I would place a bet on the high percentage of times we hear 1 Corinthians 13 proclaimed at weddings. I have been asked to proclaim this reading at no less than four weddings myself. This reading isn’t popular because it sounds “nice,” but because it defines love, (really, God Himself) so distinctly. I find readings like 1 Corinthians to be so automatic to my senses that I almost tune out the second I hear “Love is patient” and think to myself, I know this one… and then my brain starts making a list for my upcoming Target shopping spree after Mass. But this week I heard it differently.

I heard 1 Corinthians, specifically verses 13:4-8, as an examination of myself and the way I approach the ministry God has entrusted to me. I encourage you to enter into a similar examination of yourself today and see where it is that God is calling you to build your ministry on love more than self.

Love is patient

I often say, “don’t pray for patience unless you want God to give you something to be patient about.” Patience is not a strong point for me, especially in ministry. Most of us work under pastors who want results yesterday and are unwilling to allow the ministry to grow over time. We work with parents and teens with schedules and priorities unlike our own that can test our patience. But the longer I work in the church, the more patient I’ve become. Loving people requires patience and it requires us to examine our inadequacies and weaknesses. Where is God calling you to be patient in your ministry?

Love is kind

Kindness doesn’t mean being a softy. At the beginning of my ministry, I wanted so much to be liked I lacked genuine kindness. Once, I even allowed teens to blow smoke in my face, and I did nothing about it. Kindness is an act of love that frequently stems from patience.

Kindness is both praying with a teen whose parents are in the middle of a divorce, as well as holding an intervention for a young adult struggling with an addiction, knowing you might lose their friendship and trust. Kindness might not appear kind to the person you are attempting to love at the moment, but ultimately it will bring healing. Kindness demands that we turn the other cheek and do the right thing versus respond with revenge or sarcasm. Where is God calling you to be kinder in your ministry?

Love is not jealous

So when was the last time you were jealous in ministry? Jealous of the youth minister at the neighboring Catholic or Protestant church? Jealous of the new car a teen received for their sixteenth birthday when your car odometer just went over 150,000 miles. Jealousy can steal our joy and zeal for ministry and life. We start comparing instead of appreciating what God is doing in our life and the lives of our teens. We make ministry a matter of how many show up instead of about a soul’s authentic encounter with Christ.

Jealousy has had me on the verge of leaving ministry more than any aspect of love in this Gospel. Don’t listen to the voice of the evil one; listen to the voice of God revealing to you the way your “yes” has brought Him glory and honor. Where is God calling you to let go of jealousy in your ministry?

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

I’m skipping to the end of the reading in hopes that you will take time with the verses in between and examine your own heart with each. But this verse in Corinthians (1 Cor. 13:8) enlivens my soul.

Love bears all things… endures all things! We see this every time we enter a church and gaze upon the cross. I often listen to exasperated youth ministers ready to quit over a lack of budget, or an unclear job description, or parent issues. College students come home for Christmas and are not practicing their faith causing you to question if what you do makes a difference.

Christ’s love on the Cross bears all the heartache you feel. We read in the Gospels how moved Christ was for those who needed healing, and offered it so freely so hope could be restored in the midst of suffering and longing. If you think the pain you are going through is rough, imagine still waiting for a savior to come and alleviate you from your sin and restore hope for the world. When people encountered Christ, they experienced this hope! Do we? Do we believe that God can overcome all things in our world, in our relationships, in our ministries, and for our teens?

This is the posture of love that we must celebrate in our ministries today! Because love, Christ Himself, still bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things and HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS!

So what is the posture of love you model in your ministry?

 

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About the Author

Tricia Tembreull

Tricia Tembreull is a California girl with a Texas-size heart for hospitality. She said yes over twenty years ago to God’s call to youth ministry and never could’ve imagined the adventures and people He had planned for her to encounter along the way. She serves as a Parish Coach for Life Teen and joyfully travels around the globe training, empowering, and praying with youth ministers. When not on a plane, you can find Tricia in a church, spending time with family and friends, in the kitchen cooking up something delightful, or on the beach for an evening walk.