Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Organic ministry: even the slimy bits

How is it that I can have so much patience - and even joyful fulfillment - in answering the same questions over and over for 20 different students, but completely lose my temper when the home health care agency sends helpers to my house an hour late and ill-prepared?

It seems like all the selfish, demanding, ugly bits of me that I try to sacrifice for the sake of the ministry flair up in the "slimy bits" of my life - namely, doctor appointments, home health care, private pay agencies, in-home services, Medicaid paperwork, government/financial nitpicking, etc. I hate dealing with all of it, and I hate who I become when I have to deal with it.

And I condone and rationalize my attitude because, let's face it, the system is miserably broken and there isn't an ounce of common sense or personal compassion in any of it. No sane person would blame me if I wanted to scream and curse and ram holes into walls and become a raging pyromaniac because of it all.


The person I am in those slimy bits is like the Mr. Hyde counterpart to the person Christ has called me to be. I would never use that tone of voice or those choices of words with my students, my teens, my team, my roommates, or my neighbors. How can I justify being rude and demanding and resentful in one area of my life when it is so clearly inappropriate and sinful in every other area? How can I live as a follower of Jesus and still hold so tightly to something I think I deserve and have a right to be obnoxious about? I have been wrestling with this conflict - this glaring inconsistency - all morning, and literally made myself sick to my stomach because of it.

The thing about organic ministry is that it isn't a job that you get paid for per hour, that you clock in and out of, that you remove a uniform or nametag, that you leave the office and go home from each day, that you get weekends and holidays off from - it cannot be compartmentalized. It's a lifestyle, and whether I am sick, tired, irritated, or emotional, it's still the calling God's given me, and it is my responsibility to be as faithful to it as possible. I feel like Amy Carmichael had a lot to say about it, especially in the last years of her life... maybe I should reread Rose from Briar to be reminded. 

In the meantime, I'm praying for a change of heart, and a heaping double-measure of grace and kindness to spend on the home health care agency (whose collective neck I just felt like wringing today)... and all the other slimy bits.

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