You are Valued

House_SparrowIn Matthew’s gospel, we read the words of Jesus:  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)”

Now this is where I write some words that are as applicable to myself (maybe even more so) as they are to anyone else who may read them.  It is so easy for most of us to have a negative opinion of ourselves, to devalue our accomplishments, and see ourselves as unworthy.  After all, not many of us are perfect, not many of us are “Hollywood Star” beautiful, and most of us are not at the top of our fields occupationally.  And these last few sentences show us where the problem lies.  It is found when we compare ourselves to others.

Henri Nouwen once wrote the following:

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

The task before each of us is not to weigh ourselves in some cosmic balance scale against our fellow travelers and find ourselves lacking.  No, it is to find our unique calling in life; to discover what it is that we can do in our own contexts that no one else can do, and then to live that calling out in our daily lives.

In my situation, I know that there are better pastors out there in the world, pastors with great interpersonal skills and overflowing compassion.  There are certainly better preachers.  And since I am no saint, I know that there are plenty of people whose lives are more holy and more closely aligned with God’s will and desires.  But no one else is the pastor of First UMC in Pottstown.  That is my calling, and mine alone at this time.  If the people of my church are to be ministered unto, it is up to me to do the ministering.  In the same vein, no one else can be the father of my daughter Desiree.  If she is to know the love and care of a father in the here and now, I am the only one called and empowered to give her a father’s love and care.  I could go on, but I think you get my meaning.

How about you?  What is, or are, your unique calling(s)?  What can you do that no one else can do?  Are you willing to live out who you are, rather than trying to be someone you can never be?  You are of infinite value, and when you begin to see this and live this truth in your life, you make all the difference in the world to those around you.

Matthew 7:1-14 (My Paraphrase)

“Do not condemn, so that you may not be condemned. For with the condemnation you give you will be condemned, and by the measure you use you will be measured. How do you see the speck in your brother or sister’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother or sister’s eye.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them under foot and turn and attack you.

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and many are those who take it. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

My Paraphrase of Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answered and spoke to them once more in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who made a marriage for his son. He sent out his slaves to call those who were bidden to the wedding, but they would not come.

Again he sent out other slaves, saying, `Tell those who have been summoned:  Behold, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the marriage!’

But they made light of it and went their own ways, one to his farm, another to his business, and the ones remaining rest seized his slaves, abused them, and killed them. And when the king heard, he was enraged. He dispatched his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

Then he said to his slaves, `The wedding is ready, but those who were bidden were not worthy. Go therefore into the highways and invite as many as you find to the wedding.’  So those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.  In this way so the wedding was furnished with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing a wedding garment.  And he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”