Indigestion and satisfaction

Psalm 148, 149, 150 (Morning)

Psalm 114, 115 (Evening)

Isaiah 5:1-7

2 Peter 3:11-18

Luke 7:28-35

Luke 7:28-35 NRSV: I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.) “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’ the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

It almost seems our Gospel reading today was sponsored by the Food Channel, doesn’t it? It turns out, though, that diet tips don’t make a ministry. John the Baptist had an ascetic lifestyle, and a diet to match. Although plenty of people heard his message and were baptized, you can be certain that more than one person ran the opposite direction when he swished a locust around in a bowl of honey like it was a tortilla chip in salsa and ate it.

Jesus, on the other hand, appeared to pretty much eat and drink whatever everyone else was having, yet he still endured as much or more ridicule. Even though Jesus dietary choices were pretty much like everyone else’s in the region, some folks took issue with his dinner companions and couldn’t bring themselves to emulate him. If following Jesus meant a person had to share meals with undesirables, well, that was definitely a deal-breaker.

It’s a reminder why we shouldn’t place unreasonable expectations of ourselves in our various ministries. No one can be all things to all people in ministry, and there’s no specific personality type for ministry. Yet how many times do we bag on our own ability to minister by saying, “I’m not the kind of person who could do that,” or we miss the potential to encourage others in developing ministry skills, either lay or ordained, by personality stereotyping?

Much has been studied and written about Myers-Briggs personality types and ministry. For those of you unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs, you can find a brief summation here. The three most common Myers-Briggs types in ordained ministry are ENFJ, ESFJ, and ENFP. These are the people we’ve most often seen being ministers in a formal sense, so we can fall into a trap by thinking those are the only types of people suited for ministry, whether it’s lay or ordained. Likewise, ordained folks, being mostly made up of those types, are going to be most astute at recognizing potential in the people that are most like them. It takes work to recognize skills in the other types.

But the unvarnished truth is that God needs all of us, no matter what our temperament, to make God’s love manifest. God needs introverts as much as extroverts, people who use their physical senses and people who use their intuitive senses. People who think can be present for people in their pain and suffering every bit as much as people who feel. God’s not dismissive of judgmental people any more than perceiving people. All are welcome; all are needed.

That said, it also means understanding our individual dietary requirements is a key component to finding where God calls us. Some ministries are going to feed us better than others. The worst mistake a person can make is thinking they are not suited for ministry simply because a certain flavor of ministry doesn’t seem to work for them, or thinking that one flavor suits everyone.

What flavor at the Eucharistic banquet do you crave? What flavor gives you indigestion?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid. Dr. Evans is currently on a mission trip from the Diocese of Missouri to the Episcopal Diocese of Lui, South Sudan.

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