Sunday, March 06, 2011

One Thing

"And everything is important
But everything is not
At the end of your life your relationships are all you've got."
~Sara Groves

I was talking to a friend the other day how mamas minister to each other.
"If a mom brings me a meal," my friend says, "she's walking through my door, barely balancing it with one hand, with little ones hanging on her legs. It takes all she's got and more to bring me that meal, because she herself probably needs one as well."

I always think we put "ministry" in a place that feels unattainable. We overthink ministry. What is my "ministry"? Where do I fit in? How can I minister to people? Who do I minister to?

Tonia shared a wonderful quote on her blog that I am going to repeat here. (my bold letters)

"What I have in mind for you in your new job as adult youth advisor to those seven or eight Norwegian teenagers is simply this: Invite them over to your home to cook a meal with you. Make it a regular thing, say, once every couple of weeks. And that's it.

But there is more to it than meets the eye. First, its something you like to do and are good at. You have that huge county farm kitchen, furnished with every conceivable cooking device - in a culture of fast-food and efficiency, your kitchen opens up a world of care for food and its painstaking preparation will strike them, to use one of their words, as awesome. Second, you will be taking them seriously as persons, without any condescending adaptations to their status as adolescents. You are inviting them into your adult world and making them participants in it - work that is not make-work; work, not entertainment (although not without its pleasures.) Third, you will be working out of a context of hospitality, probably the very best setting in which to develop personal relationships and develop conversations that include Jesus. [...]

You have scores of delightful and sometimes imaginatively complex recipes - they're not likely to get bored. And you will have provided a setting in which they will experience themselves in ways which are rare for them: treated with dignity, not exploited to some program or other, and treated as "souls" to be nurtured, not psyches to be fixed. [...]

I'm sure by now, you can discern the conviction that is behind my suggestion:
that "ministry" is organic, growing out of who and where we are in circumstances in which we know and serve Jesus; not something we impose on a person or setting as "mission" or "evangelism" or "youth ministry."

While I see the value in "co-ordinating" ministry in churches and asking people to serve in the church, there also is a part of ministry that occurs in our everyday life which includes, as Tonia said, "is growing out of who and where we are."

Who are the people that the Lord has placed in your life? Who are those people that the Lord keeps bringing to mind? They are there for a reason. can you love them? How can you minister to them?
When we let our own views or idols of ministry get in the way of what could truly be "organic" then people fall through the cracks.

"And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say I've got something better to do..." ~Sara Groves

And ministry is messy. It's doubling a meal you make for your own family and bringing the other half to your friend. It's putting down that one more thing and choosing the better.

"There will never be an end to, the request upon your time...."

It's writing that letter to encourage a friend.
It's listening to a hurting friend when your house is crazy and the dishes are messy and you don't really want to listen... but you do.

It's listening to the voice of God say, " this. Not this."

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10: 41-42

Sara Groves lyrics from the song "Just One More Thing"


Courtney said...

stirring post, Andrea. I lately feel that I have emptied myself out to my two toddlers and have nothing possibly left to give... but a prayer, simple email or meal to let someone know I'm thinking of them is all that is "required".

Andrea said...

I know what you mean Courtney, and I've been there, too. Sometimes there are "seasons" of ministry, especially with toddlers. =) And definitely you are the one who needs to be ministered to during this time!!
I think though, it's just being mindful and intentional about the people the Lord puts in our takes a lot of thought to be "organic" in ministry, don't you think? But not much "work", as you said--just an email or phone call.... love you, andrea

Karen said...

Perfect timing, Andrea. I have been longing to do "ministry" especially with my children. But at 3 and 22months, that can be iffy. I would love to take them into assisted living facilities but my oldest sometimes gets cantankerous when she is uncomfortable. I could take them to work in a food pantry but there is a good chance I will spend more time chasing them. Then it began to dawn on me that there are women in my life that need my time and my attention. There is my calling and my "ministry" in this time of life. God always provides us with opportunties to serve Him if we will just open our eyes and see.

Thank you for reaffirming this idea.

tonia said...

right where you are. right here. you minister and bless, andrea. so glad you are in my life.

Suzy Q said...

This post speaks deeply to me.
It's all about, putting something down and picking up something better, more needful.
It's all about listening.
I don't listen as well as I could or should.
The words here jolt me out of a comfortable place and inspire me to take more care to listen well... and from listening respond to that which contains the truest need within each moment.
Thank you, I so need these reminders :)

Famaddict said...

So true.

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