Last Monday, our Growth Group said goodbye to Stuart. It is clear that God has called Stuart to be a pastor, and his theological education begins in a couple of weeks. However, his class schedule conflicts with our group’s schedule. So, we commended him to the grace of God and assured him of our continuing love and support for him.
We listened to Stuart as he shared his testimony about this call, including the challenges that he is facing with some members of his family. As several members of the group shared words of encouragement, tears began to flow from his eyes. I quickly got a box of facial tissues and gave it to him. As he held the box and wiped his tears, he said, “Thanks. This is my first gift.”
Of course, everyone laughed. But what Stuart said is a profound truth that every pastor can identify with. God’s call to the pastorate may not always come with huge and regular financial rewards, but it will certainly not lack in gifts. Over the years, I have received numerous gifts, even from anonymous donors, which God used to meet my family’s real needs. Sacks of rice, fresh catch of fish, bottles of purified water, lots of clothes, gadgets, vacation packages, scholarships for our children, furniture, and many more. Pastors may not be financially well-to-do but they are certainly gifted. They live by gifts!
The apostle Paul was gifted as well. Christians from Philippi regularly gave him financial gifts in support for his ministry. As he thanked them, he said “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
A box of tissues may seem small, but yes Stuart, this is your first gift. There is more to come. God’s grace is always sufficient.