CAUTION: These are thoughts and concerns that give me a headache. So, be forewarned.

I have a problem.

(well- I have a lot of them —- today we’re just gonna pick ONE!)

Here’s the thing:

I am passionate about my particular calling. I love people. I love their thoughts- ideas, creativity, and uniqueness. True: Some people annoy me. I strongly disagree with their opinions….. But I am amazed at God’s unique artistry in how he designs people. My passion for people comes from my love for God. Because I love God, I love the people He made— I see little reminders in them- of Him.

Not exact replications… But little reminders— similar to the way I love my friends kids- first on their own merits- then— because they remind me a bit of their parents- whom I love- and love to be reminded of.

I also- absolutely love ministry to women, children and families. I love the church. (By which I mean the church as represented in acts… Etc…)

Not seeing my problem? On the surface, you wouldn’t. I’ll try to get you into my brain for a bit. Hold on- it can be a crazy making place.

Because I am PASSIONATE about Jesus, about His people, and growing them in Him….I read, I learn, EVERYTHING I can… About how to do ministry well…..Some ideas I soak up— some I disagree with…. Some I just don’t know what to make of.

Some of the things I read bug me. No, I guess they make me sick.

Here’s why:

See- It really bugs me- when one particular “theory” or “approach” to ministry is presented in a way that is critical of others. It FEELS very wrong to me. It FEELS like pride. It FEELS like discord, that is not biblical.

Honestly- it feels like sin against the body of Christ.

It sounds like “See— this new thing I’m doing? THIS is the way to do ministry… All the previous ways—- they are Wrong….SEE… HERE’S WHY… THEY ARE WRONG…..blah blah blah……”

I guess to me- it sounds like a judgment against anyone not “doing ministry” the same way— is OBVIOUSLY not hearing from God…..” Because if they WERE then- of COURSE they would do things MY way. “

Here’s what bothers me about this. I am passionate about my unique calling. That DOESN’T mean I demean the unique calling of others. I am called and equipped to minister to women, children and families. That DOESN’T mean I feel Men’s ministry is less valuable. I back Men’s ministry. I minister specifically to Moms thru MOPS, that doesn’t mean I don’t think ministry to women who have no children is less valuable. I minister to Moms with Preschoolers- that doesn’t mean I believe the Mom’s with teens have less important needs- or that the needs of those older than me are less important.

I have chosen my particular home church- based on the “non negotiables” of Christianity. These are the things that I believe cannot change- and still call yourself a Christian. I have also chosen, based on my personal preferences and personality- and those of my family. (to me- the stylistic is negotiable- music, liturgical style Etc…)

That doesn’t mean I demean

de·mean2 (dĭ-mēn’) tr.v., -meaned, -mean·ing, -means.
To debase, as in dignity or social standing: professionals who feel demeaned by unskilled work.
To humble (oneself). See synonyms at degrade.

the different needs styles and choices of others- based on their unique design by God.

The world is a very BIG place. HUGE. There are 6,446,131,400 (July 05 estimate) PEOPLE in the world. They range in age from birth to death. (duh- I know) That could be up to 120 years old. ( I made that up) EACH and EVERY ONE MATTERS TO GOD. God desires to minister HIS love to each one- thru believers.

There is no ONE Approach, or formula, that will work. HELLO. 6,446,131,400 PEOPLE (sorry that was snotty)

WE desperately need EACH OTHER. The Body of Christ abides in US… TOGETHER. Each one doing it’s own PART. (just search for the body in the bible— you’ll see it pretty clear) The traditional minister to those who respond to that approach, the non-traditional to the non traditional. Each one does it’s part- to minister to the WHOLE EARTH.

The current culture and generation are important- as are the REST of the world. The gospel is to be preached in it’s entirety. With a plurality of methods- based on the needs of those to whom it is being preached to. The message doesn’t change but the method does. (these are not new ideas——I didn’t say they were) That EVERY man should Know—That Jesus Christ is Lord.

I love learning the “new approaches” I appreciate God’s passionate calling, and unique design. I take what will work for me – in my current cultural atmosphere. And, I try to disregard the “attitude” of superiority that can come with exuberance.

But should it even BE THERE? I don’t think so. And I use it to caution, and remind myself.

I fight against my own.

I LOVE the creative process. I love developing something “new”. I love experiencing the synergy of ideas shared- and developed with others. I have been a part of the exciting “birth ” of a different approach to ministry. I have experienced the trap- of pride, and the feeling that my passion should …..oh.Let’set’s just say “reign supreme” that money, time and effort SHOULD be poured into MY area of passion……. of course.

I’ve learned that God calls us to an area of ministry- with passion- for a purpose. That flame is what ignites others. I’ve also learned, that it takes MANY flames to light the World. The Gospel is the light- we are the lightbearers. Each one is a unique “container” for the light. Designed with a specific purpose, to light a specific area.

I can’t warm my home with a candle. (well- I could if I used it to set in on fire— that’shats not really cost effective now is it?) I don’t speak Spanish. I’m glad that God uses Spanish speaking missionaries and believers- to minister to those who do.

I don’t live in Russia. I’m glad God uses believers there- to minister, there. Their approach is going to be different- than my approach here- in Canton, MI. Or – yours wherever YOU are. It has to be.

I’m NOT talking about changing the message. I’m talking about respecting each other as God’s image bearers- His light bearers….. allowing for those differences- while holding TIGHT to the truths of scripture.

(ummm simple yet also admittedly, infinitely difficult truths.. Like Jesus is the only way- that God exists in three expressions/persons, yet is ONLY one God…That we get to heaven by Jesus’ sacrifice and grace, Not by our good works, Yet our faith without works is not living…it’s dead you know…these things…..)

The old song just keeps rolling thru my head…. (I suppose there is a lot of emptiness up there to roll around in…)

“They will know we are Christians, by our love, by our love….”

(Sometime I’ll share my DH’s version of that song— it’s hilarious, in an ouchy kind of way!)

(Love- First for God- then each other- then overflowing to the WORLD…..) Instead we look like a bunch of cranky critical jerks, with prideful attitudes that say MY WAY is the BEST way……

Dear Jesus- Please help me with my strong feelings in this area—- these are major trigger feelings for me— they make me want to say— “shut up. You’re a jerk- can’t you respect others. DO it MY way— with respect…. ” When I feel like that- I’m … well in a hypocrite. If you want to be technical…Because, I’m doing what I say NOT to. I’m being critical. Please help me to learn what and how you would have me to minister. Please give me wisdom and courage to confront what I should- please take that HUGE log out of my own eye ,before I try to do surgery on some one else’..Please knit together your body Lord- and help us be one. I love you Lord, Amen.