Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Man of God
This week while in an extended conversation with a church member somehow the subject came up just what I am attempting to accomplish in my own life as I pastor this small church where I have been camped for ten years. Without much thought I heard myself say, “I want to be a man of God.”
Even now as I write those words, man of God, they seem strange and boastful. Strange because I wonder what a man of God looks like -- I’m certainly not one -- and boastful because to offer this as a raison d'être for one’s existence seems on the face of it haughty.
Since then I’ve given the idea of a man of God some thought, and though I’m still far from conclusions I think a man of God -- like David -- is a man after God’s own heart, like Abraham is faithful, like Daniel is courageous, and like Barnabas is consoling. These men and their controlling characteristics are mere metaphors, however, pointing at some such life that puts God first, and as such they present us with possible steps upon which to walk through the narrow gate (Mt.7:14).
Putting God first? The celibate priest, of course, has a leg up here because his vocation allows him this latitude. I suspect, however, that allowance does not always lead to action. For men with a vocation of marriage we seem to start from the jump with divided loyalties. Whom will we serve? God or family? It is only when we realize that we serve God by serving our families that this twisted conflict is settled in our minds if not in real-time.
Whatever else this means, it certainly must mean that the man with a family vocation takes seriously the responsibility of leading his family toward daily putting God first, where together they work (and make no mistake it is work) to allow God to be the center of family life.
Putting God first also involves, inevitably, a rich, deep and prolonged life of prayer. There is no other way. If fact, this may actually be the key. How else will an intimate and healthy relationship with the Almighty develop within someone like me, someone bent on his own will, his own way and his own destruction?