Wednesday, November 20, 2013
A Ministry of Openness
My husband and I have talked a lot recently about "ministry" and how we complicate what it "should" look like. We tend to think in terms of programs or events or a strategic plan to fill our calendar with "reaching out". Our spirits begin to feel burdened before we ever even start. How can we do this "plan" with six children? How can we keep from burning out? Why does this sound hard and tiring? So we shelve the dreams and get back to being mired down and closed off in our own little stories while the years pass by.
In order to demystify "ministry" or "reaching out" or "being missional" or whatever your Christian sub-culture calls it, I am simply seeking to be more open. Open to what? Sharing my Jesus-life with others in simple ways.
I smile at cashiers in the check-out line at Kroger. I ask them how their day is going. I listen to a lonely older woman share with me all about her life and children as we wait to have our fabric cut at Hobby Lobby. I hold doors open for others. I give drivers the right of way and a wave. I ask people questions.
I text other mamas. I have several conversations going with many different women almost every day. Sharing prayer concerns, sending each other encouragement, offering wisdom and insight. Being available. Laughing and debating and pondering the deep things of life.
I make meals. For the sick, for the ones with new babies, for the family that needs tangible support. I send packages and cards to those that need to know that God sees them and He cares.
I keep my schedule simplified so that I can watch for needs. Opportunities to show support and care and to cultivate an environment in my home of service and warmth and thoughtfulness. Someone may mention that they need a date night on Facebook, and if my time and energy allows, I offer to take their children. I take mental notes to check-in with the friend who mentions they are tired and hurting during the next time I see them in person.
Ministry doesn't always look like running a children's program or leading a Bible Study or working in the nursery. It can simply be an openness to God and where He is at work and an openness to loving others in small ways. An open heart is willing to be vulnerable, to share weakness, to listen without judgment, to discern and offer wisdom, to give time and a meal and a hug. Availability to be used by Him wherever the steps in your day takes you...as you check-in to social media, as you go through the line at the bank, as you talk to your librarian, as you pick up a couple of items for dinner...as we are going, we make disciples.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming so quickly, the opportunities to show kindness and care will abound. The hurting need hope during this season. Pain is magnified this time of year. How can we be the open and gentle and loving hands and feet of Jesus? May we have open hearts and willing hands and eyes to see as we go into this holiday season.