Ministry is Messy

I love things to be in order. From a very early age, I was a perfectionist. Every item in my room had its place…an exact place. I would dust and vacuum my room at least 1x a week. Strange for an 8 year old boy.

As I found my way to my teenage years, my obsessive compulsive nature began to subside. However, now that I’ve settled back into the fact that I’m weird, my true self has resurfaced.

I love things to be in order. I like things to be neat, clean, and organized. This is how i’m wired – and I’m good with that.

This propensity tends to rear its head in my ministry role. As a student ministries pastor, I love for our students to have things together. I love to hear and know that they’re falling in love with Jesus, growing in their understanding of who they are in Him, and all that jazz. I guess the problem is that sometimes I desire these things for the wrong reasons.

If everyone in our ministry is neat, clean, and organized, that means I’m a good pastor, right? It means our ministry is effective…transforming…life changing. If our kids are a mess, doesn’t that communicate that the leadership is a mess?!

If you’ve seen the movies “The Truman Show” or “The Stepford Wives” maybe you’re beginning to get my point. Sometimes, we put so much energy into looking like we have it all together, that we never focus on the reality that we’re all a mess, in desperate need of God’s grace. Every day.

Jesus had lots of choice words for Pharisees who worked really hard to keep up appearances of having everything together. Jesus knew that people are messy. Look at the people He attracted – they were all kinds of messy. Still are.

I guess at the end of the day, we’re all messy. Especially me. But isn’t that why we do what we do? We get to step into the messiness of life, junk, sin, lostness (if that’s a word) and get to offer Truth, hope, and healing in the midst of the mess.

It’s a privilege to be invited by folks who know they’re a mess to speak into their lives. It sure beats the alternative – clean outsides, rotten insides.

So, at the end of the day, I’m good with the fact that our ministry might look a little disheveled and tattered to the outsider, or even my boss. Because that’s real. It’s authentic. It IS a reflection of leadership, because we leaders are a mess too.

In the words of Henri Nouwen, “We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.

The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”

Amen.

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