Arise and Shine (James 2:14-18)

Every year, I seem to have a recurring conversation with youth ministers who enter the world of parenthood. Every youth minister desires to be the BEST youth minister they can be, and once you are blessed with a spouse and a son or daughter, the struggle is real to find balance. We hear talks about how to keep our primary vocation, primary, and how to find some sort of equilibrium when it comes to work, faith, and life. However, we rarely explore the formula for balance Christ created for our salvation: not just our sanity.

In the second reading, James gives us the magic formula we all are seeking, for both salvation and balance: faith + works = salvation. We hear all the time that “faith without works is dead.” James says it this way, “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2: 17). How we foster our faith is critical and must be the source for all our work. Sometimes, we can lean so far into this concept of work that we can neglect the faith aspect of our mission, vocation, and ministry. We get so caught up in the “doing” of ministry that we fail to make enough time for personal prayer, prayer with spouses, and the primary catechist role for our sons or daughters.

On the other end of the pendulum, we have the concept that “works without faith is dead.” In fact, works without faith can lead to a ministry and vocation that does your will more than God’s will. It can lead to resentfulness between spouses and family when you are overly busy and not present at home. Works without faith create youth ministers who want the glory on them verses God receiving the glory. It can lead to burnout and joylessness. We must strike a balance more for our salvation than sanity.

Even Christ in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 8:27-35) was preparing the apostles for this faith plus work equation for salvation. He warns them that, “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” Christ himself had to do some math and add the faith He had in God, His Father, plus the work of Calvary for our salvation. The plus sign in this equation is the cross, and the cross comes with sacrifice, pain, and suffering. The cross gives us a great visual for what balance looks like.

When it comes to following the will of God for our salvation, balance does not mean peace and simplicity. No! Balance comes from sacrifice plus prayer. There is no magic equation other than to add faith plus works and subtract the need for perfection and anything in your ministry that has not been prayed through or revealed by God. The faith He calls you to is a belief that it is not our will that strengthens us, but rather, that all things are possible through Christ (Philippians 4:13). The only action God desires from you for your ministry and vocation is the action that will lead your family and teens to His greatest work of all – the cross.

This week, examine where the majority of your energy is spent: faith or works? What do you need to do to create a stronger balance between the two? Possibly discuss it with your spouse and have an honest conversation as the school year begins. Balance will look different for everyone, but unless you have faith plus works in the equation, it will be fruitless.


Image via FlickrCC 2.0, Logo added 

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.

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