Pastoral Ponderings—Coffee Pot Parable
I came into the office to an empty coffee pot
“Woe is me!” I grump and groan, is this really all I’ve got?
There’s coffee in the cabinet, the water’s in the tap,
the filter’s in the cabinet too—a problem, or simple “to do”?
Believe it or not, some people just don’t understand how a guy could wax poetic about coffee, but here it is, my poetry for the day! So how is the empty coffee pot a parable? I’m glad you asked!
How often do we come into a situation—like an empty coffee pot—and only see it as a problem and not an opportunity? I suppose I could look at that empty pot and be disappointed—“Woe is me! There’s no coffee to be had!” (whimper, wine, grouse and groan…), or I could just make a pot of coffee, and enjoy the opportunity!
One of the things I really treasure about the Rev. Darling Wife Karol (even though she could never understand waxing poetic about coffee!), is that any time she comes to a new situation in ministry, she sees not the empty pot, but the abundance of opportunity! See an empty room—is that a loss for what once was, or an opportunity for what could be? See a financial challenge– is this an obstacle, or a source for creativity, building faith, and highlighting our call to stewardship? See an older congregation and get frustrated wondering where the kids are– or see a building full of adoptive grandparents, eager to lavish love on any young desperate for relationship?
It might be said that the key to creativity is what we see—or perhaps more accurately, what we notice, and whether our eyes are attuned to opportunity, or focusing on only seeing loss or obstacles. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my current favorite Bible passage from Philippians 4:8 (NASB) that helps give us eyes to see: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
A lot of Bible translations render this “THINK ON these things,” while this NASB version gives us a better clue to this wisdom by rendering that line “DWELL ON these things”—don’t just recognize, but FOCUS on the positive, the opportunity! Not that our focus on the positive takes away nor even pretends that loss, sadness, or other challenges are NOT real, but we get to choose where we live—whether we “dwell on” the positive or the negative, is it too simple to say that we focus on what we focus on? And when we SEE and FOCUS on opportunity (even if amidst challenges), that drives what we decide to do—will I make the pot of coffee, or lose out by only groaning about it and not make the effort to put the opportunity to good use?
So what will you do with the empty coffee pots that God shows you today? Let’s have coffee… Rev. Jim