Most of us have had those days or periods of life where we find ourselves feeling disgruntled, dissatisfied or even depressed. Though this could be due to a health issue, more often than not it is because our expectations were not fulfilled. In the Woods Cross Transcripts, Abraham has often taught how these feelings are a time for serious contemplation of our relationship with our divine Parents -- "In whom do we trust? What is our focus? In whom do we really serve?"
In a recent lesson on this topic, Abraham drew out the story of the Disgruntled Church Minister, and how he came to realize such discontent, and steps he took to overcome:
A minister in a church appeared to have all those things in life that were true, beautiful and good. The parishioners would attend his service, recite the usual prayers, and leave feeling the same as when they arrived. The minister focused on strictly preaching on lessons from the scriptures. He focused on telling his listeners on what not to do. He always attempted to greet his parishioners personally with a handshake or greeting, but never really took the time to know each person.
The minister saw to it that the church was kept immaculately clean and proper, for he felt it reflected upon him. He imposed strict guidelines upon his family so as to personify a godly image. His focus was set on how he appeared to the world. He performed all his life's duties to the best of his ability. Anything less was not acceptable. He could not be caught stumbling. He was sharp with those individuals who volunteered at his church to make sure everything ran smooth.
He slept little and worried much. He felt as though he was doing his very best for God and could not understand the emptiness inside him. He could not be found having faults to the outside world. He felt somewhat superior in a way, and yet deep down he knew this was a mask for his true feeling of inferiority. He was trapped, so to speak, in his standards. He was unable to move about with creativity. He was bound by tradition and aesthetics.
As he viewed his listeners one day during church services, he felt as though nobody was really listening or appreciating him for his efforts. He really thought they should look up to him. He ended the service as he always did with the same scriptural phrases, said his good-byes, and after having looked over the church to make sure everything was just perfect, he got in his car and left.
As the distraught minister drove he thought, "Why do not the people see my efforts? Why do my children rebel against me? Why is my wife indifferent towards me? I do everything to the highest standards. I feel not close to any one of my parishioners. I feel my hands are destined to repeat the traditional habits that have always been. I am indeed a righteous man, but what is wrong!"
In the cloudiness of his thinking, his car was broadsided and he was indeed hurt and in great pain. His first thoughts, "How could God allow this to happen to me, for I lived a righteous life!" As he was drifting in and out of consciousness he heard that divine voice from within. "In whom do you serve, my son? Who do you trust to complete those daily tasks? Who's opinions of you do you value most? Who are you attempting to impress? Whom do you serve?"
As the man recovered he, for many hours, pondered these words and attempted to answer them. He found he was serving himself. He was building a nest of prestige. He craved adoration and power. He could not become close to any one person for he put himself above them. He had set up for himself a seemingly perfected life in which he was not allowed shortcomings or mistakes. He soon realized God did not demand this of him, but he assumed this standard would bring him what he most craved.
When the minister had fully recovered he returned to church services to find the parishioners to be enthusiastic about the messages from their temporary substitute minister. He had felt some jealousy at first, but he had allowed true humility to seep into his imprisoned mind. He had learned from the new pastor how to relate with individuals one-on-one with sincerity. He learned about living up to the true definition of a minister. He realized that a perfect screen over an imperfect mortal only imprisons and strangles creativity.
The ‘changing of heart’ minister began to preach from his experience and honestly told his listeners of all that he had learned. He courageously admitted his blindness and taught the people with those lessons he had learned therefrom. He had not so much cared any more for the condition of the church as he did for the condition of his family, friends, and church attendees. He had realized he learned as much from his listeners as he had taught. The parishioners became participants and the church became alive with divine information, creativity, new and better ways to live this mortal life, divinely.
The minister had found a new door had opened to his soul that allowed him the spiritual liberty we should all be fortunate to know: He could move with real joy; he could find humor in his mistakes; he could find value in his hardships; the pressure was lifted off him and the light of reality had set him free. Today he is joyful and thriving in a successful church ministry. He is no longer bound by what he thinks righteousness is, but by caring about glorifying our Father and ministering to his family, friends and acquaintances.
My friends, find those things that imprison you and complicate your lives. Ask yourselves the questions that the divine voice asked the man as he lay there in pain. “Where is your focus? Whom do you serve?” [WCT -- Abraham 9/11/2000]