Compassion Creates Motivated Preachers
Compassion Creates Motivated Preachers
We are in a series of posts about how to keep your motivation as preacher. Here is where you can connect with previous posts. In this post we are considering how compassion creates motivated preachers who can go for the long haul in ministry.
Peter Ustinov was a British actor, writer and director who was known to say quotable things. One of those quips was this: “Charity is more common than compassion, because charity is tax deductible while compassion is merely time-consuming.” Fortunately, he lived in country that gave tax deductions when you have receipts that show your support for a qualifying ministry, but there’s a danger here. Sometimes when we give our money we can keep needy people at an arm’s length even while we feel some self-satisfaction that we are doing something “good”. In other words, you can be charitable and not experience compassion. Yet, one of the things I am learning is that compassion creates motivated preachers and leaders. It is a quality that will serve you well. Let’s look at this subject of compassion as we find it in the Bible.
God Is A God Of Compassion
In Exodus 34, after Moses had broken the first two tables of the law when he saw the disobedience of the Israelites, God gives Moses a lesson in compassion. It’s almost as if God knew that compassion creates motivated preachers and leaders, and He wanted Moses to know that this was a secret view into God’s own motivation. God reveals himself to a frustrated Moses this way:
5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Wow! That is a God of compassion.
Jesus’ Compassion Creates Motivation
We find one of the powerful statements about Jesus’ compassion in Matthew 9:36. The context is Jesus considering the people around him. They appear to him to be wandering aimlessly through life. Sick people inhabited the crowd, along with those who were physically and spiritually hungry. So, what was Jesus’ response? Here is how Matthew puts it:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
The word for “compassion” here is a picture word. The Greek word describes the inner, digestive tract as being upset. Here’s how this word is described by Strong’s dictionary of the New Testament:
In Koine Greek, the word σπλαγχνίζομαι (splagchnizomal) is translated as to have compassion or to pity. More literally, it means “to be moved to one’s bowels” (Strongs NT 4697). You know that knot you get in your stomach when emotions get high, well in Biblical times the bowels were thought to be the place of love and pity.
Jesus felt something move deep inside himself. That feeling of compassion “moved” him, as some translations put it. Compassion creates motivated preachers as well as motivated Saviors. Jesus went on to teach his disciples about mercy, and he spoke to and healed people in the crowd.
The Mother of Compassion That Creates Motivated Preachers
Mother Theresa knew the compassion that created motivation to begin a ministry for the dying people in Calcutta. In a newsletter about India, the authors said this about Mother Teresa under the title: Mother of Compassion:
Mother Teresa was the epitome of compassion. If ever one would dare to give a core competency to her, it is this single characteristic of being a compassionate person. She radiated this quality, when on earth, in a way, few humans could ever do; her love for the marginalized and the vulnerable and particularly for the poorest of the poor and the dying destitute was boundless.
She was able to give and not to count the cost. Her compassion towards others motivated her to found the Missionaries of Charity. She was effusive in her compassion for the “least of our sisters and brothers” and did not try to hide this fact.
How to Create Compassion that Creates Motivation for Ministry
Creating compassion begins with an ability to understand the human condition. We are all sinners. All of us have our faults. Each one of us is a failure, and each one is subject to pain from a variety of sources. It is helpful (at least for me) when I encounter someone who is angry, or critical or accusing to step back and wonder: what are they experiencing right now that creates this in them? Often, when I ask them about their life, I hear stories of stress at home of jobs lost, or of stress of various kinds. Consider the frailty of human beings.
Then pray for the ability to see people as Jesus saw them, as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. You will then find that compassion creates motivated preachers and you will be one of them.