Through an indirect process (no one complained to me) I’ve learned that Nursery Director is one of the most dreaded jobs at CPC. Relatively few people are signed up and sometimes those who are signed up don’t show up. This puts all the work back on a few people or the person serving as director. I get this. Everybody’s busy, too much to do, and there are few consequences for shirking what seems like a relatively trivial responsibility.
Let me come at this the long way round. We love ourselves and tend to put ourselves first. This is a simple truth that we should admit. What I have planned is more important than what you have planned. Don’t ask me to change my plans. My time is precious to me. I suppose yours is precious to you, but not in the same way that mine is precious to me. I can give very little of myself, say an hour a day, and still think of myself as a generous-spirited servant and a person willing to sacrifice. While it takes an epiphany of burning-bush dimensions to get us to see our self-centeredness, we congratulate ourselves in a heartbeat for very small things, or excuse ourselves because our schedules (which we control) are a runaway train.
When Paul said, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” (Php 2:3) he was speaking knowingly, wisely, intentionally into the condition I am describing. He saw in humanity exactly what we see: “me first, you second.” To this he said, “have the mind of Christ, who made himself second, and elevated everyone else above himself.”
When we baptize a child, we ask you to take a vow to “assist the parents in the nurture and admonition” of that child. Nursery is the easiest and most obvious way to do that. If we can’t pull off Nursery, we should cut that vow out of Baptism. At a deeper level we’re talking about the proof that Jesus demands of his disciples: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). Simple things like nursery — or the workday tomorrow — are ways of loving the people who lead and organize such events (not to mention the kids), which in turn are ways of loving the Lord himself, since loving others is all but equated with loving God (cf. the Greatest Commandment and especially 1 Jn 4:7-8).
Years ago in a church crisis that involved some pain on my part, a friend said to me: “get over yourself, Eric, this isn’t about you.” A friend said it! They were perfectly timed and painful words. I was angry and certain his comments were unjust. They weren’t. They were dead accurate. So accurate they haunted me and kept me up that night. “How painful are honest words!” Job said (Job 6:25). Let’s pray for this together: that we can get over ourselves and serve one another. It is, perhaps, the primary battle of the Christian faith, the great act of mortification of self. He must increase; you must decrease.