When we seem not to be valued
November 23, 2005
No one in our generation defines Christian love as does Mother Teresa. Mention her name and images of care and compassion surface. What is usually misunderstood is her resolute spirit and tough oversight of her worldwide ministry. A TV documentary showed her reviewing a new centre on the US west coast. With a quick glance at the furnishings, she ordered them removed to be replaced by more modest ones. To romanticize her is to miss what she was about.
What those of us in leadership may miss are the years she spent in drudgery and obscurity before her name and work rippled across the media. The model of service that had its larger impact years later was refined in those obscure years. That is not to say that what we do in obscurity will inevitably find its way to a Nobel laureate. There is no promise of that.
We need reminding that validation of our calling and the value of our work may not surface for many years, and possibly not even in our lifetime.
William Carey's forty years of missionary labour with one convert was not the measurement of his calling or effectiveness. That came decades later.
God of Eternity, the One who is in no hurry in working out your purposes, keep me from thinking that if there is no apparent success this week or year that all is lost. The sowing and reaping cycle is your design, and for good reason. This day, in my thinking, praying and managing, may the rhythm of your good creation be replicated. Amen.
Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu at age 18 knew her life would be different. At 38, she founded the Missionaries of Charity. For another 20 years, she worked in obscurity. We know her as Mother Teresa.