Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who Is Important?

I was recently at a large church gathering, where a designated group of volunteers were in charge of shuttling us to the campus where we would gather. When I went forward they greeted me cheerfully, checked off my name, and then said they would try to get me on the next shuttle and showed me where I could wait. After a few minutes, they came back and pointed out that there might be some people who needed to go ahead of me because “they were important.” It turned out the important people were all men and one of the women explained to me “they are pastors.” I don’t know why she assumed I wasn’t, but I can only guess it’s because I’m female. I ended up waiting two and a half hours. The next time a different person came by and asked me “Are you important?” I answered, “Well, I’m important to Jesus,” only to be met with a blank and slightly confused look. There were people who pushed to the front of the line. There were people who did not know there was a line. And the volunteers, to be fair, were doing the best they could.

It would be easy to make this about the ways that the church (perhaps unintentionally) makes people feel less. Or about the ways that women are still devalued in places of leadership. But what happened in those 2 plus hours is I ended up reconnecting with an old friend and having a heartfelt conversation for which I wouldn’t trade all the “importance” in the world. Leave me here all night, I almost said, and I’ll have a better time than if I had gotten on that first shuttle as I had planned.

But a few days later, it leaves me wondering: do we understand what it means to be less? Some of us do. And those are the ones whose names we don’t know, who show up to their children or their congregations, who show up at their jobs even when they are unappreciated and undervalued, who begin their days with a prayer even when their hearts have turned to stone because they can’t imagine a world where there is not more love than they have seen. They are the ones who have felt less their whole lives because of things other people have said or not said.  They are the ones who, whether they would have chosen it or not, have the mind of Christ.

I wish we could find ways to listen to those people. The ones who aren’t important, the ones whose names almost nobody but their families know. The ones who have something to teach all those who are so convinced of their own power and importance. The ones God loves. The ones we need if we are ever to find a way to get over the power and the fighting long enough to cross boundaries and risk loving with the kind of love that is our calling. Because, my nameless friends, you are important to Jesus. And we need your quiet faithfulness and your humility to survive.

1 comment:

Pastorross said...

Thanks. Sobering thoughts.