I work part-time as our church's administrative assistant. And when I say part-time, I really mean part-time... only 6 - 8 hours a week. Every Monday, I prepare copies of our service dvd to send out to different people, and I also mail our weekly bulletin and prayer list. The vast majority of people I mail these things to are shut-ins who can't get out to church any more.
Yesterday as I was preparing these mailings, one of our young deacons came into the office to use the dvd copier. Since I was already using it, he had to wait, so we chatted while I prepared the envelopes for the mailings. As I put the address labels on, he was asking about the work I was doing, then he looked at an actual label. He saw a lady's name on a label, but he didn't recognize the name. He asked me, "Who is that?" I told him her name, even though he could read it on the label. I explained how this particular lady is quite elderly and could not get out to go to church, so we send her a bulletin and things so she'll still know what is happening in her church. He said, "I don't know her."
I said, "No, I don't suppose you would know her."
He said, "How long has it been since she came to church?"
Me: "Oh, it's been quite a while. Years."
Him: "I have to meet her! I have to know her!"
Me: "Of course! That's a great idea! Pastor Dave will take you and you can meet her. I know she would love to meet you!"
Him: "If I go see her, she might feel good. She might think, 'Oh, he came to see me!' and be so happy and I could cheer her up. I really need to go and meet her and visit her."
Me: "Yes! Go see her. Cheer her up! She would love it."
And he went on to ask me about each name on each label, wanting to know their stories and why they can't come to church. His heart was touched; he was nearly overcome with burden for these people, many of whom he'd never met.
And I was undone. He has a real heart for ministry. He has a real love for people. His heart is tender and open. He feels a personal responsibility to each and every person on my mailing list and only saw what HE, himself could possibly do to lighten their load. He was overwhelmed with burden for them because to him, not being able to go to church is a devastating idea indeed.
James 1:27 says, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." The Bible, Itself, does not mention the word "religion" very much at all. That makes sense since Christianity is not a religion. But, in this verse, it is summed up very well. The context is being hearers only of the Word, but not doers, thus deceiving ourselves.
As the preacher's wife, my perch beside my husband often has me viewing the not-to-pretty side of ministry. This conversation with this young deacon helped me reset my priorities. I do believe I have a lot to learn from this young man and I am humbled at the very idea. The focus is Jesus Christ. His focus is people in genuine need.