Easter Sunday and the place was packed. Lots of wayward family members squirming in the pews as a favor to their grandmothers. And there were the semiannual church attendees who came last Christmas. Plus, the visiting dignitary--part of a body of governors that I answer to, who decide my professional fate.
The irritation, ego, and anxiety settle in. First, I think about how most of these people won't be here next Sunday and I fight the temptation to thumb my nose at them. Then I think of the dignitary and how I need to perform well for him. If he doesn't like me, I could be sent to the Siberia of our denomination.
I quickly review the sermon. Jeez, I wish I could think of an extra clever story to go with the message--something that really pops. God, don't let me be too lame.
Then I think how I've been preaching longer than this guy and am probably better than him on my worst day. It occurs to me that I don't want to show him up too badly or he'll make sure I get sent to the Siberia of our denomination.
And then, finally, I remember that this man has his own sadness and trials to bear. Whatever his purpose for being there, mine was the same as it always is: to bless the people.
I'm not sure why that is hard to remember, but I go through this little process fairly often.
There were no problems. People said I was extra good. And I was.
But there goes the ego again.