For recruiters, there are sometimes debates about hiring for skills versus energy. Both are essential qualities, but while skills can be developed, energy is more difficult to cultivate in a person. Of course, it is unrealistic to think that someone hired will be 100% passionate about their work. Instead, when employers and employees maintain an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to grow in an environment of open communication, it’s often a recipe for a healthy workplace.
When I started to be a pastor, my skills were scarce, but I had a good dose of stamina. As I became more proficient and the complex demands increased, my energy began to fade. It was only when I engaged in a regular, personal practice of prayer that I experienced lasting energy.
In the church, energy is not something that is self-generated. Members of the Church too often think that they have to “work the energy” to serve or accomplish various tasks. When church members believe things are done by will, burnout usually nibbles at the limits of their ministries. A person who prays can sometimes tire physically because life brings exhausting seasons with it. However, a person who relies on the Spirit does not experience spiritual depletion because he knows that an inexhaustible source of energy is available. Tapping into an infinite source of energy always revitalizes an individual and a community of faith.
The most dynamic prayer ministry I have experienced was next to the bed of a church member living in a nursing home. He was in constant prayer for his caregivers, family members and congregants. Although he had physical difficulties dealing with the effects of a stroke, he continued to access and share spiritual power. I looked forward to my visits with him because he was deeply attuned to a channel for the spiritually alert.
Sharing skills and energy can impact others for decades. I will never forget attending an Easter Vigil when I was a child. I was captivated by the voice of the lay reader charged with reading many selections from the Hebrew Bible that evening (for the Easter Vigil Mass there are nine scripture readings followed by pieces of Psalms). The lay reader wore thick black-rimmed glasses, spoke in moving baritone, and certainly “the Spirit of the Lord God” was upon him. He modeled that there is never simply a reader and a biblical text. On the contrary, there is always a reader and a text accompanied by the Spirit.
Personal effort is a necessary good start, but all work in the church is brought to completion by the Spirit. This is why self-importance and self-centeredness should not find a landing pad in a congregation. The work is done for God, following Jesus, in communion with the saints and by the power of the Spirit. Gratitude is offered to those who provided labor and resources and glory is left to the One who created everything.
In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes: “Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which comes from God, that we may understand the gifts which God has bestowed upon us”. (1 Corinthians 2:12). Spiritual gifts are not earned or deserved, they are lovingly entrusted to people by a merciful God. Talents are things that come naturally to people as a gift of the Spirit comes to them supernaturally. God gives the spiritual gifts, as well as the energy, so that the beloved community can continue to be built on earth as it is in heaven.
If we think for a moment of the most influential people in our lives, teachers, coaches or mentors: chances are they have generously shared a combination of skills and energy.
While physical energy can rise and fall over the years, spiritual energy is relentless.
Reverend Elizabeth Goudy is a pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of the LV www.mcclv.org