I just finished a whirlwind of four days, gathering with eight other English ministry pastors and about seventy other Korean ministry pastors in the C&MA in Irvine, California. We are serving all over the country, and our common bond of Jesus Christ found expression in a similar context in serving the next generation in Korean immigrant churches.
Even in gatherings of pastors, there is often a subtle and unseen competitiveness. Spiritually sounding questions like, “So what is going on these days?” can mask a curiosity regarding church size and relative success of one another’s ministries. However, our time together was marked by an unusual degree of unity.
Paul said, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:25–26). Conceited pride is expressed when we envy one another–envying the size and success of other people’s ministries or accomplishments. Conceited pride is also expressed when we provoke one another, putting others down because of our own accomplishments. But when we walk by the Spirit we refuse to become conceited.
So what do we do instead? First, we bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). As we gathered as pastors, we shared the realities of our story and burdens. Wisdom and experience from other pastors helped to strengthen us as we listened to one another. Prayer for each other abounded, and the result of that prayer was that love flowed. I’m so grateful to each of these brothers for their vulnerable sharing of the realities of their ministries. I listened and learned from each of these brothers.
Second, we must bear our own load (Gal 6:5). Instead of comparing ourselves to each other, we articulated the key questions that we are facing in our present ministries and worked to find answers to these questions. As we did so, we are testing out own work, so that we might find reason to boast in ourselves and not in our neighbors (Gal 6:4). Instead of wasting our time in comparing ourselves to each other, we focused our time by seeking to find answers for the questions that were burdening us.
Finally, we ate well. For some reason, California simply has better food than Chicago. In-n-Out burger, wonderful galbi buffet, great coffee — all deepened and accentuated our unity in the gospel. I’m so grateful for spiritual refreshment through relationships and physical refreshment through food.
Why? Life is relationships. I’m grateful for the relationships formed for the Kingdom.