Friday, March 23, 2007

The jury pool, the trial, the verdict and the pastor

The trial is finally over. Nearing the middle of the second week of my jury duty service I was selected (randomly) to be in another jury pool. Forty-six prospective jurors were ushered into the courtroom in ascending order. Numbers 1 – 14 were seated in the jury box. The rest were sitting in the benches that made up the “gallery” portion of the courtroom. I was prospective juror #5.

The judge informed the prospective jurors of the nature of the case—it was a child molestation case. My heart dropped. This was not the type of case that I would want to hear.

The jury selection process was very interesting. Questions were asked to many of the prospective jurors. At the end of the questioning I was positive I would never be selected to be on the jury. Here are my reasons for thinking that way:

  • During the introductions I told the court that I was a pastor. Often the prosecution is worried that a pastor is going to be wanting to error on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. The defense is worried that a pastor will be an “eye-or-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth” type of person. Both sides can be concerned that a pastor will try to be persuasive in the jury room.
  • The court was aware that our church trains our staff to report suspected child abuse as required by state law.
  • I have had training in counseling. There were some specific questions asking if prospective jurors had any training in counseling. I figured that my counseling training would get me off the jury.

I was shocked to find out that I was selected to be on the jury.

The jury selection process reminds me of how God calls us to follow him and how he gifts us for that calling. He selects us even though we feel inadequate for the tasks ahead. Moses did not want to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Paul did not want to become one of the group that he was persecuting. God selects people who are unworthy to be a part of his team.

The Holy Spirit gifts people to build up the body of Christ. Some people desire specific gifts and never receive them. “Bob” was an active participant in a church I was serving. Bob had received the gift of speaking in tongues many years earlier. His wife prayed and prayed for that same gift. She prayed for years for the gift of tongues. One day it finally dawned on her that God had gifted her with the gift of teaching—not tongues. She was an excellent teacher of young children. Her gift had a profound positive effect on the faith development of our church’s young people. The body of Christ was built up through her using the gift that was given to her by the Holy Spirit. There are times God selects us to be involved in ministries that we never expect.

There are pastors, elder, deacons, church members and regular attenders who find God calling them to be in difficult churches. The first inclination could be to ask, “Why me?” A friend of mine received his first call to a church as a solo pastor. Within a few months of arriving at the church he found out that several members of the church were involved in “wife swapping.” He stayed with that church and walked with them through a very difficult time. Why did God have him go to that church? I believe that it was because he had the gifts, talents and ministry skills that the church would need to make it through such a difficult time. The secret is to stay where God plants us (until God says it is time to leave) and serve him as best we can.

Jurors serve on cases that are difficult and challenging. They do the best they can. Our system of government and laws depends on it. In God’s family there are times and ministries that can be difficult and challenging. With his help we do the best we can. The body of Christ depends on each of us to do our part. Anything less and we disappoint God and harm our brothers, sisters and the world to which we are to minister.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Still on Jury Duty

Dear friends of this blog,
I am now on my THIRD week of jury duty! The jury duty was to be for two weeks; however, I got selected on a jury and the trial will continue through most (if not all of) this week. Between jury duty and my work as a pastor there is not enough time to compose thoughtful posts for the blog. I will resume posting as soon as jury duty is over.