Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ministry is Messy....

I've been thinking about this for some time now and wanting to process my thoughts by writing this post. It might come across a little everywhere! : ) But generally, that is how I roll!

I work for a Christian mentoring ministry. We place Christian adults with at-risk youth from single-parent or no-parent (live with another guardian) homes. I LOVE my job. Can I say that one more time, I love my job. But it, like all ministry has it's ups and downs. Along with my job, we have tried to start ministering through our neighborhood and church. There are few lessons that I've learned that I want to share with you!

1. Ministry is messy! Period. I generally love to have things all planned out with black/white policies regarding all possible situations. But that is absolutely UNREALISTIC. I want to package everything nice and neatly. I want it to look a certain way and for others to respond in a certain way. It does not work like that. We are humans after all in a fallen world. There is a battle going on around us and the battleground isn't all roses and pretty countrysides. It's messy, dirty and literally exhausting sometimes. That is why we MUST rely on God's grace and allow HIM to do the work through us. When there is an ugly custody issue going on, a partner in the ministry not doing his/her share or a child making all the wrong choices in their young life...there isn't easy fixes. There are no perfect answers. We must simply trust and lean on Him.

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15: 5

2. Flexibility is a MUST! Along with being messy, ministry is also not on a time schedule. It comes at some of the most worst timing. Like when the neighborhood girl comes over to hang out while visiting her Dad on Sunday, and I've just just laid down for a nap. : ( Just to be clear, me writing these lessons does not mean I'm perfect or have learned them completely...I'm a work in progress. BTW, I don't always get up to answer the door. Like I said work in progress. An opportunity to minister can also show up in the form of a call or walk-in, just as I'm getting somewhere in plowing through paperwork. Or maybe it shows up out in public when you are bustling about on errands. This person or people may want to talk...NEED to talk to someone. But you are busy. Ministry is not always polite, smell nice, or on time. {of course, I'm not always those things either : ) } Though, I usually grit my teeth when I'm confronted with an opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God, I'm always blessed when I take the time. Don't get me wrong, there have to be boundaries in our lives, but boundaries I believe must be balanced with flexibilty.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand." Proverbs 19:21

3. ALWAYS extend Grace! Because ministry is often not polite, smell nice or on time, we can become frustrated. Even me (who is usually that late one), in all my free-spiritedness gets frustrated by other people messing up my schedule. Along with the inopportune times that ministry catches us or the efficiency of them coming to an appointment....there is also just the nitty gritty of our human nature. Those we naturally butt heads with, hurt feelings over something said and even big time failures on anothers part. It's HARD, I'm not going to say any different. But what I do know is when I feel the anger well up in me when someone has let down a child I love, or the hurt by a comment someone threw my way, I cannot bury it! Another person and I this week was talking about the glory of reconciliation. It has saved many of my friendships, family relationships, and especially my marriage. People are going to fail us. We are going to fail others. Thankfully, we have God's grace to depend on and to extend to others. Scott and I try to keep short accounts when it comes to our hurt feelings or frustration to each other. We try to come to each other quickly as to not create walls or tension build-ups. We are not always perfect with this, but really try to keep it this way. Not only is this important in our most treasured relationships, but in everyone that God sends our way. God gives us grace, shouldn't we also give it to others created in His likeness?

"And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart or compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." Colossians 3:12-13

4. You CANNOT compartmentalize ministry! This was really taught to me all my life. As I was growing up in a Christian home, learning about who God is and attending church with my family, I never was taught to believe ministry/being a Christian is a Sunday thing. Through the years, I've seen how ministry cannot be compartmentalized to a church, job or a certain time. My serving God through helping others does not always ONLY occur 8-5 or for a few hours on Sunday. I truly believe ministry is all about living it out all the time. Also it cannot be confined to just our families or those we want it to. I do not remember reading in the Bible about how we can choose who we are to serve. Don't get me wrong I know that I'm called to minister to my husband and one day our children. But does that mean I'm limited only to that. What about the neighbor? the lady i run into at the grocery? the elderly couple that comes every week to our Soup Kitchen? No, I believe we are to minister to all who God brings down our path. My husband has challenged me even more to believe this and try to live it out. To serve even those that aren't easy to serve.

"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, " Go and do the same." Luke 10:36-37

5. Don't GIVE UP! Scott especially is good at this and encouraging me not to give up. When our good intentions of "getting to know the neighbors" haven't been REALLY done in the past year, and I feel like just giving up. He encourages us both to try again. When I'm frustrated from work and not wanting to persevere through some tough stuff with the kids/families in our program, he pushes me on to trust that God will help me through this. When I haven't checked up on the single mom that I've befriended or feel she doesn't really want my friendship, he encourages me NOT to GIVE UP. I'm so thankful to have a partner to minister along side and someone to cheer me on.

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." Galations 6:9

That's all I really wanted to do with this post, CHEER YOU on that is! May we all look for God's opportunities to serve Him by helping and loving on others!


sarahe said...

wow--what great reminders! Thanks for posting this

Paul & Merideth said...

Aaaagh! So gooood! :) So glad you posted this. And so cool of the Lord that He seems to be teach BOTH of us the same things even though we are far apart! I feel like I am consistently learning about the concept of 'margin' in my life right now. I love/hate it. wink wink. Love you & thankful for the ministry your blog has to my heart. xoxo!

Becca said...

So glad to have found your blog! cant wait to read more and "get to know you" :-)

MandaS said...

Thanks for the reminders SB! I needed them. Its so easy to get caught up in my own little bubble and ignore the rest of the world. Thanks again! Love you!

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