Which is your trump card -- performance or tenderness? A very short story.

What do you tend to do when people aren't pulling their weight or showing proper respect or getting with the program?

Many centuries ago elders of a monastery came to a wise monk named Abba Poemen to air a frustration and ask for advice. Too many monks were falling asleep during worship services. The elders asked, "When we see the brothers fall asleep in services, should we wake them up so they will be more attentive?”

As a hard working Jesus-follower and pastor, I am right there with the elders. I would want people to participate in worship all together so the worship service would "work" and God would be glorified. I wouldn't want the sleeping brothers to irritate the brothers who are making the effort to remain focused. My compassion would be stirred toward those who are putting in the effort. What does this say about me -- and all of us who feel the reasonableness of the elders' suggestion? Perhaps that we are too in love with effort and results. That our way of relating to God and one another might be too wrapped up in performance -- ours and everyone else's. That we haven't spent sufficient time sitting with God, lifting up before him our own failings and receiving his gracious love.

Abba Poemen replied to the elders, “When I see a brother falling asleep, I place his head on my knees and let him rest.”


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