Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Vineyards, Mission, and a lesson in Humility

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 in Christianity, Culture, Teaching | Comments Off on Vineyards, Mission, and a lesson in Humility

Usually on Sunday evening, or early on Monday morning, I post my sermon text (this week from Matthew 20, the workers in the vineyard), but this week I want to offer a few general thoughts, since what I had written for my sermon changed fairly dramatically based on some of the events of this last week.

  1. Our reward is not always tied to what we justly earn. This was an original point, and I pulled it out of a quote from Earl Nightingale, a motivational speaker from the 1950’s. He was convinced that this was true, and used it often in his speeches. Essentially the formula is set goals, work hard, achieve great results. While much of this may be true in the workforce, we too quickly assume that God operates the same way. What we need to be reminded of is that The Kingdom of God doesn’t operate the same way as the kingdoms of the world.
  2. This message is more about church folk than anyone else. It is especially about those dedicated church folk that volunteer frequently, donate large sums of money, or have faithfully served on church boards for years. Maybe it’s even most dangerous for those that actually get paid to work in the church (pastoral staff). The ones that put in the long, hard hours of ministry tend to make the assumption that they will be getting paid more or are somehow special and more deserving of grace. The disciples thought the same thing (See Matthew 19 and later in Matthew 20) and Jesus confronted them both times. What we need to be reminded is that Even though Jesus calls us to faithful ministry, it doesn’t mean those that do so are somehow better than anyone else. 

    Tempranillo vines, Clos la Plana vinyard, Pene...

    Vineyard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  3. The American church is a late comer to the movement. This is where I really deviated from my original notes, given some of the horrific stories of persecution that have come to light recently. If we want to talk about those that labor in the heat of the sun, it can’t be American Christians who by-in-large eat three square meals a day, live in air conditioning, and have access to life’s basic necessities. We screw this up because we miss it, often thinking of ourselves as the first group, and definitely having the attitude of the first working servants. We feel somehow entitled to more because we have been ‘Great Defenders of the Faith.’ In all truth, we have not, our brothers and sisters around the world are doing a much better job of this than we are, and yet they display the grateful attitude of the workers hired last. Their faith is greater, their works are greater, their level of discipleship is greater than anything I have seen in the American church. What we need to remember is that When we take our eyes off of our job (discipleship) and put it onto our reward (what we get paid, or what we are worth) we become bitter Pharisees and lose our effectiveness.

My heart has been broken this week by the stories of our brothers and sisters around the world and the trials they are currently facing. My wife and I spent part of Saturday morning crying and praying for them. I have been humbled this week by the grace of God to find more ways of faithfulness in mission. My prayer for us is that we never allow a spirit of entitlement to grow within us, but to remember our gratitude as we follow faithfully our King Jesus.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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