I’m just going to come right out and admit it. I am the donkey.
In many of the iconic images of the nativity, somewhere lingering in the background is the donkey. He’s never up front…in the image above, he didn’t even make it into the frame. All of the other players, full of wonder and amazement, have front row seats to the miracle of the Christ Child’s birth. But not the donkey. He’s lying somewhere in the shadows, too comfortable in his straw bed to move. Now, in fairness to the donkey, he had just been through a long journey, toiling under the weight of a pregnant woman. He was tired.
Our church had a live nativity on Christmas Eve. Of course, it was precious. Little ones portrayed Mary and Joseph and all of the animals…the cows, the sheep, and even the donkey. The scenario was very different last year. Last year, rather than the donkey being represented by a child in costume, there was a real live donkey. And, as real live donkeys are known to do, when it was time for him to enter the church, he wouldn’t budge. He planted his feet firmly where he stood and was immovable. He saw that scene unfolding before him in the distance and refused to step into it.
Here are some of the ways I am like the donkey:
1. Sometimes I get tired.
Carrying the responsibilities of leadership can feel like a burden. And sometimes, I just get tired. Sometimes, I can be so heavy laden with concerns, that a brief reprieve is my greatest desire.
2. Sometimes I get too comfortable.
Once I find a comfortable spot, it’s difficult for me to want to leave. Sure, there may be amazing things happening beyond the soft cocoon I’ve created for myself. But sometimes, I just want to stay in the comfortable, the familiar and the easy.
3. Sometimes I am immovable.
Although I want to believe that I am led by God’s will for my ministry and my life, the truth is, I can be stubborn. Sometimes, even though I clearly see the thing the Lord is asking me to do, I dig in. Because, sometimes, I like where I am and I’m just not willing to move.
4. Sometimes I miss the miracle.
Everything I do in ministry is to celebrate and proclaim the miracle of the Christ Child. And, yet, when I am given the opportunity to experience and share the joy and wonder of this miracle, I miss the opportunity because I am so focused on my own concerns.
So the takeaway for me (and possibly for you, if you have a little bit of donkey in you) is that as a ministry leader, I have been given a key role in introducing the world to Jesus. I do not want my tiredness or stubbornness or anything else to get in the way of that. Sharing that Good News is not a burden to retire from; it is a precious, special opportunity. And I want to be fully present, so that I can experience and enjoy the blessing myself, and then—as an outpouring of my own delight—share it with others.
No matter what we’ve been burdened by in our ministries, it’s my prayer that we will all experience the hope and blessing the Christ Child brings, so that we can touch lives for Him with a willing spirit, renewed in joy and vision for the coming year!