Serving, Not Being Served

Last weekend, I received communion on consecutive days from newly-ordained former students of mine. That affected me deeply; these were folks who had spent years in my courses, whom I’d knocked myself out to invite into the practices of prayer and critical interpretation that equip a leader with deep, adaptive spiritual resources for recognizing and proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Now, they were feeding me with the bread of life.

That experience underlined the extent to which my work involves imposing on students: placing demands on their time and patience, their capacities for attention and understanding, their willingness to entertain — at least provisionally — perspectives on the New Testament, church history, and interpretive wisdom that may diverge from what they’ve hitherto thought. I cost them a lot, both financially and in less quantifiable resources. Their trust in me (those who tender it) beggars my imagination; I pray that I have responded to their willingness to rely on me with offerings fit for such lovely, ardent, earnest servants of God.

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