Beautiful still in the midst of chaos. It’s possible.
But it’s not something I learned over night.
Let’s say I learned it over multiple nights….
It was time to write about something in ministry that unavoidably takes time.
It’s not funny when a blog subject is too palpable. A divine appointment? Maybe.
I was growing impatient trying to think of the things that take the most time in my ministry. Impatience morphed into indecisiveness. Flustered, I shut my laptop as if in shutting it I had won my own mental tug-of-war. Not. Letting. A. Blog. Get. The. Best. Of Me.
There. Take that.
Then I went to bed.
Day two, and one day past deadline.
I’m riding my bike to work and thinking of all of the reasons it’s better to ride my bike to work. (Even though my legs burn a little on the next-to-nothing uphill grade in the road. Even though I eat bugs for breakfast. Even though my white jeans get grease on them sometimes).
Reason 1: It chills me out. It’s nature’s detox. Love it.
Reason 2: I can say hello to the people I pass along the way.
Reason 3: I save money on gasoline.
Reason 4: My kids run to greet me at the end of the day like I’m the Queen of England. That never happens when I drive up in my car, too dangerous.
Reason 5: I see and smell. I smell other peoples trash and am glad it’s not my trash. I smell my own trash and am happy that it’ll be taken soon. I see life, new little froglings dodging my bike tires. I see death. Road-kill armadillo is pretty freaky.
Reason 6: Thinking happens.
Reason 7: I learn from mistakes. I’ve only wrecked once while running my tire parallel to a curb instead of straight over a curb (one should not try to jump curbs on a cruiser, unless you’re 12, then go for it). I’ve only had to take my shoes off once, putting them in my basket and wading through 8 inches of “who knows what’s in this water” when a main broke during road construction. Not funny at the time. Funny now.
What I’ve learned from riding is that the patience process is similar in our ministry settings. Not everything needs to be slow. There’s a time to pick up the pace, a time for exhilarating speed and change, but there are equally important moments of waiting, slowing, and understanding.
Being a chilled out, no chip on my shoulder, content and flexible leader takes time. When I first started out in youth ministry. Everything made me cry. Tears are no stranger to me but it takes an 8, 9, or 10 on the emergency/ priority/ challenge/ change scale to wreck my mascara. My heart is still in it, but over time, I’ve learned to be still.
Getting to know the people takes time. It took some years to have a good relationship with our neighbors. Day by day, one hello at at time, helping each other move furniture, sharing cookies and celebrations, to praying for each other and missing them when they are gone. It’s the same in our ministries. So often we jump in and hope for the relationships to instantaneously happen (they often do with teenagers) but our consistency over time builds the types of relationships that no other strategy can.
Building a team and learning how to creatively use a budget to support the purposes of your ministry takes time. It took me about ten years to realize that my budget dollars needed to match the goals of our ministry. It’s more than a game supplies fund. It’s a resource for God’s kingdom purposes.
Learning from mistakes. Seeing challenges as opportunities. Knowing that teenagers are on a life time journey of transformation. Knowing that our superiors, whether it be a lead pastor or a director to whom you report, are also on a journey that takes time. We become fearless yet humble. We become confident yet meek. We seek the untamed strength of our Lord and also find the gentle comfort of a shepherds staff.
Is a willingness to hold on for the ride of your life.
Is a commitment to community and conversation.
Is a decision to grow.
When I’m on my bike, I start to smell like outside (because I have indeed been outside). When we serve faithfully in ministry, over time we begin to smell like it too. Glorious.
Hop on your bike (or into your ministry)–bust the cycle of impatience, be step with God, and remember for every long stand up hill there’s always the freedom of the other side, ease and joy and an “I can’t believe this is my life” type of rest.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. JAMES 1:2-4