by Jill St. John
“Is it worth it?”
While eating a meal with a friend, I told her how I was handling a difficult challenge as part of my ministry role at our church. Her response was: “Makes you wonder: Is it worth it?” Those words rang in my head long after the bill was paid; they still do.
“Why this waste?”
During a meal with some friends, a woman approached Jesus with an alabaster flask of very costly, fragrant oil, and proceeded to pour the contents over Jesus’ head as an act of worship. “Why this waste?” said Jesus’ disciples rather heatedly giving suggestions about what she could have done differently with what she had (from Matthew 26:6-9).
As women in ministry, we each have our own alabaster flasks filled with our passions, gifts, resources, strengths, experiences, and callings. As we minister and lead, we pour ourselves out as we serve Jesus, His church, and our communities. It is costly! From my own experience, as with our Sister with the alabaster flask, there is an age-old battle that can occur when we serve Jesus: voices of doubt and discouragement. Those voices amplify my own insecurities: Is what I’m doing making a difference? Is it worth it? What could I have done differently? Sometimes I feel misunderstood. Sometimes I feel that what I do to serve the Lord--and how I do it--is not particularly valued. There is a different Voice we need to hear loud and clear!
“…She has done a beautiful thing for Me…” (from Matthew 26:10) Jesus received our Sister’s gift of love and service with His divine love and favor and blessing! And, dare I say gratitude?!
Unlike the other voices in the room, the Divine Voice spoke to her--and through His Word speaks to us--His acceptance, value, and love. Jesus’ perspective on what we do for Him is divinely different from what others see and sometimes communicate. Jesus understood our Sister. He got her! He gets me! He gets you! He valued what she did for Him! He values what we do for Him!
A dear friend who visited Israel brought me a flask of spikenard—the valuable, fragrant oil Mary poured out as she anointed Jesus (John 12:1-8). As in the Matthew 26 anointing, this act of service to Jesus was called into question and criticized by others. Jesus defended Mary’s actions! Once again, He communicated joyfully receiving and accepting a beautiful offering.
Spikenard is a sweet and earthy fragrance—and strong! I open it and get a whiff to remind myself that Jesus receives, loves, and values my acts of worship and service to and for Him. May our sweet Savior’s Voice, His loving words of favor and blessing, override any other voices, our own or others, in response to our serving Him: You do beautiful things for Me.
One final thing that I find helpful to note is concerning Jesus’ words to the nay-sayers: “Why are you bothering this woman?” Why indeed! May Jesus’ Voice be the loudest as we do beautiful things for Him!
Jill St. John, once a high school English teacher, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. She serves as Co-Pastor alongside her husband, Jason. For the last 23 years, they have served at Evangel Church in Kansas City: 6 years as youth pastors, 17 years as lead pastors. Jill has a passion for Jesus and a zeal for teaching God’s Word – helping others walk in God’s love and purpose. As a 4-time cancer survivor, she knows the goodness of God through the highs and lows of life and ministry. Jill is an authentic, enthusiastic messenger of God’s joy and hope. Teaching, cooking, laughing and hanging out with her husband and two children are the delights of her life!