So Moved (Struggles in Church Leadership): Matthew 20:19-34

QUUU9723033Jesus was “Moved with compassion” (Matthew 20:29-34). The Greek word for compassion here (and in most places) is among my favorite Greek words (because of both its meaning and it’s just fun to say). It’s σπλαγχνίζομαι, and it’s pronounced “splagnizomai”. Try saying it out loud. It’s fun. But this word is rooted in the same word for the “inward parts of the body, the viscera, the entrails.” Or, I think one could say, the bowels. The compassion that Jesus feels is one he feels in his body, it stirs something in him physically.

I love the way Jesus is connected to and aware of his body. He lets his body speak to him, and because of this he always seems to obey those nudges, even if it will get him in trouble or even if he simply doesn’t want to do it. His heart breaks- his stomach literally churns- for people and he can’t not do something. Jesus is on a mission here. He’s got somewhere to be (just wait for tomorrow’s story. It’s a biggie). Jesus wants to take his movement forward, but his body tells him to pay attention to the cries of the marginalized on his way.

As a pastor, it’s easy to get swept up into what I need to do to “move the organization forward”, an to do that, but to what degree and at what expense? Sometimes I feel too much like a leader of a non-profit organization and in so doing end up leading a non-prophet faith community. Because of the pressure to move the organization forward, we pastor types often don’t have the time and even vision to pay attention to those nudges, to listen to our bodies. But deep down the nudges are there.

What if we, like Jesus, were so moved by things that we couldn’t not respond, no matter the risk? What might the Church become? I think attendance may drop or simply not grow. But I also believe that engagement may increase. I think more disciples might be made. I think the Church might begin to matter in its culture again. I pray that as I grow in my ministry I might pay more attention to that which moves me with compassion and respond. May we never move our organizations forward at the expense of those along the path on our way.


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