Allissa and I were working in the garden yesterday; talking, laughing, reflecting. At one point she looked at me and said something to the effect of…
Ministry, and especially pastoral leadership, is much like gardening.
It involves far more time on one’s hands and knees then anything else:
If you’re going to do it right.
Unfortunately ministry, like gardening is far easier to talk romantically about, then it is to actually do. Which is why so many people think lofty thoughts about it but generally fail to follow through and end up instead with a mess.
The real world is full of real people with real hurts and real questions. Ministry is no more standing over them and telling them how to grow up, then gardening is standing over a plot of ground telling the weeds to die and the plants to grow. Just as with a garden, real ministry is difficult, arduous, frustrating, and entirely an act of faith. There are no guarantees, only the promise inherent in the seed that if you will plant and cultivate then it will birth forth a miraculous blessing.
This is the genus and the impetus behind incarnational ministry…
and yet too many have missed this because the meaning of the words is drowned out by their popularity.
Vision, Mission, Incarnation; these all have become buzz words, the kind of vocabulary that we throw around so that we can feel better about how we waste our time. We write books about it and we preach sermons about it, but then we go home to our clean houses and take our abundance of food out of our clean fridges and enjoy a good clean meal. We talk about getting down in the dirt, but then we cleverly arrange our lives in such a way that we never have to worry about actually doing it. Don’t miss understand, they are each biblical concepts, but the scriptural impetus for them is quickly lost when they are employed too lightly… but alas, I digress.
The genus and the impetus of incarnational ministry is that it is only when we become one with those that hurt, that we can shoulder their burdens with them and speak life into the death of their brokenness (Galatians 6:2/Ephesians 5:1-2). This is what Jesus did and this is what He desires for us to do as His People.
Oh that we would concern ourselves less with how we are seen by Man and more with how we are heard by God. That we would worry less about how to fill our meetings and raise our funds, and that we would worry more about how to love our God by loving our neighbors.
Have this attitude which was also in Yeshua HaMashiach, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality as God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being born in the likeness of men. Further, being a man, He humbled Himself and become obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.