Originally Posted on September 14, 2011 by St Barnabas Anglican Parish of the Bluff
In the secular world that we live in there is a great temptation that especially among churchgoers that being a priest is someone choosing to enter into employment which does not demand much. There is in a sense that the secular world does not seem to understand that this is calling from God.
On the question that being a priest does not demand much and the famous joke that says priests only work on Sunday is wrong and at some level it is down right cynicism, designed by parents to discourage their sons not to be priests.
At the heart of being a priest is the calling. Best described in this phrase, “God put his hands on me…” There is no other explanation. Think about the disciples of Jesus, two of them come to mind in fact three. Luke the medical doctor, Matthew the tax collector and Paul the lawyer all these left they professions and responded to the hand of God. I am sure people around them must have thought that these guys are really mad, to leave all the wealth and social influence and to follow this son of a carpenter from Nazareth. That is the heart of being a priest, being aware that one has been chosen from the congregation to take up a special ministry to serve in the Church of God.
In the world, which we are born, we are taught that those who deserve our respect are those individuals with wealth and those with titles that can open doors. We are taught from an early age to strive for both. This thought has been influenced by the secular world that we live in. Because of this there is a danger for the priest to imitate these world standards and there is a great danger of a priest losing touch with his vocation in our world today. Increasingly in this world the priest is being called upon to justify his existence because the world sees no material worth of having a priest. In some parishes’ assessments towards the priests stipend is grudgingly paid.
He is a priest by the Grace of God. Not by his own virtues or abilities. He is a priest not because he deserves to be one, nor did he earn it, he is a priest because it pleased God to call him into priest hood. If a priest is to be at peace in this world where worldly standards are applied he has to accept that God called him. Through this he faces the world without apology for whom he is, it is by Grace and nor merit, this is the basis of being a priest in the present world.
We have Biblical examples of those called by the Grace of God, Abraham we are not told about his gifts or abilities, but God calls him. The initiative lays with God. Moses was called to lead the people Israel out of Egypt there is no merit mention why he was called. The initiative was God’s. The prophet Jeremiah was called by God, what is required by God from those whom he calls is obedience and trust. As a priest I must trust God that he will provide for me and indeed he does, through the community of the faithful in which I serve my ministry. It is humbling to be looked after because we are raised to be self-sufficient. Priest are called serve God in obedience, trust and total surrender.
© Fr Barnabas Nqindi 14 July 2011
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ