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Food for Thought - Musings

Reclaiming the F-word for the Church

The use of the f-word within the Church has been out of vogue for way too long. If someone even lets the f-word slip, let alone use it intentionally, there are immediate recriminations. The use of the f-word has become so offensive that it has been obliterated from our conversations, and supplanted by the highly popular, ego stroking, s-word. Yes! The s-word. The s-word has been bandied around, acknowledged and embraced as the appropriate replacement for the f-word and viewed as a fitting synonym. So now the s-word reigns supreme supplanting the f-word that is now viewed as archaic, having gone the way of the dodo and the dinosaurs.

The tragedy in all this is that the f-word is the word found in the scriptures. Paul pens the f-word, while, Jesus places the f-word on the lips of God the Father in one of his parables. Yet, in our age of productivity, professionalism, pragmatism, ambition, statistical growth, self-sufficiency and self-aggrandizement there is no longer a place in the Western Church, for the f-word. For the Western Church has become just another institution fed by the streams of capitalism and the entrepreneurial spirit, developing marketing strategies, branding themselves in ways that seek to expand the bottom line of buildings, people and budget while losing sight of what really matters, what this is truly all about.

As much as some would like these words to co-exist, to be two sides of the same coin, this is not possible, for their worldview and internal stances toward life and ministry are in opposition to one another. These words are NOT synonyms but antonyms.


Self-sustained effort

Responsibility for results



Esteem/value from the results that my abilities, talents, energy accomplish

Measurable results - bigger is better


Goal driven

What works(pragmatism) is good.

Rewarding busyness


Subservient role

Steadfast, dutiful

Yielded, dependent, trusting

Stewarding that which belongs to another (God)


Measuring rod of God

Valued and celebrated by God

Fruit of the Spirit

Trusting God

Celebrating rest

We need to begin to rediscover, reclaim, re-embrace and value faithfulness – to name it – and celebrate it when we see it displayed in the lives of others, in our own life. We need to see it as the only true measuring rod of a life lived well, of ministry that honors God. We are called to be faithful stewards, faithful to the one to who called us and to whom we belong, and good stewards of the gifts we have received.

The s-word is a cruel taskmaster. It is never appeased but continues to demand more, its appetite is insatiable. It stokes the fires of self-aggrandizement and self-sufficiency while it continues to chew up and spit out countless pastors sacrificed on the altar of the bigger and the better. Yet the s-word remains the word of choice within the Church – seminars are given and books are written regarding the pursuit and attainment of success. The trappings of success are alluring: notoriety, riches, acclaim, a sense of value…. So it is no wonder that the words of Jesus; “Well done, good and faithful servant” have been long forgotten. Yet this is to the detriment of the Church and those who seek to live Jesus.

What about you?

Which word, success/faithful are you most comfortable with? Would you rather be viewed by others as successful or faithful? Why? What do you see as the difference between seeking to be successful and being faithful? How would your life, ministry change if you choose to be faithful rather than successful? What do you see as gained and what do you see as lost in choosing to embrace Jesus’ call to faithfulness rather than the world’s call to be successful?

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