Saturday night, a pastor I've mentored for several months contacted me to ask if I could fill in for him because he was sick. So, I began preparing a message for the following morning. In the morning, I headed south to a church whom I've assisted over the last several months and where I've preached a few times.
By Sunday night, I hadn't started my post, but had two unexpected encounters. One with a young couple I've encouraged over the past few months, another with a young missionary family who served in the Philippines and needed a place to stay.
Ministry and people
Life as a pastor and missionary is full of what might be called relational interruptions. I mean, without people there is no viable ministry. People are the work of the ministry, not all the tasks of doing ministry.
Don't get me wrong. Doing ministry involves many, many tasks, some of them very important and some quite mundane. But these tasks are meaningless if they're carried out at the expense of relationships.
When the work (aka tasks) of the ministry becomes more important than the people, priorities get out of balance, which brings unintended consequences.
[bctt tweet="Life as a pastor and missionary is full of relational interruptions"]
Thousands and thousands of families are sacrificed on the altar of ministry by well-intentioned pastors and missionaries. This is also true for those who volunteer their service to a ministry.
Consequently, people can become collateral damage in the wake of churches, or missionaries, driven to complete their ministry mandates.
It ought not to be, but too often people get hurt, slighted, taken advantage of, or just plain run over by the machinery of ministry or some heavy-handed leader. I get it. My family and I have endured our share of ministry-related injuries.
But I see that as the norm, not the exception. I accept it as part of the reality of family life—church family life. And I'm pretty sure no one gets excluded from it.
[bctt tweet="The work of the ministry should never be more important than the people"]
Plenty of blogs shout about ministry abuse, but this isn't one of them. I want to share a couple of relational interruptions that were blessings, not disruptions.
[bctt tweet="We had a couple of relational interruptions that were blessings, not disruptions"]
My unplanned appointments
My wife and I got a call Saturday night from our daughter in Daytona Beach. A young missionary family we know needed a place to stay Sunday night. Their plans fell through, that is, someone backed out of a commitment to them, and the four of them needed a place to stay.
How could we say no? I mean, yes we had plans, but we had an empty guest room, and had experienced similar things in our own lives as missionaries. So, we prepared for our guests, which included two preschool boys.
After the morning service, I greeted people and intended to head back home, but was pulled aside for a few necessary conversations. The young couple who lead worship and youth ministry asked me to lunch. OK, so I know I've got guests arriving, but I knew God set up an appointment I needed to keep.
Meals with a purpose
Once again, I enjoyed a meal and conversation with this young couple, and an opportunity to encourage them in what God gave them to do. It was simple. It was relational. It was a relational interruption, and it was worth every minute.
[bctt tweet="God-appointed relational interruptions are worth every minute they take"]
The afternoon and evening were a time of catching up with a young family who stayed with us several years ago in the Philippines. They were in the process of transitioning out of their ministry in the Philippines into a new organization and ministry assignment.
They are still going through what's called reverse cultural shock. This varies for everyone, but it takes up to a year or so to fully transition from your home on the mission field when reentering your home culture. Truth is, you never fully transition, because you're forever changed. But that's another subject for another day.
We all headed out for an early dinner together. Not exactly the kind of date night we planned for Valentine's Day, but it was clear that this was God's plan.
A responsibility, not an obligation
Once again, our meeting with them was an opportunity to encourage those younger than us in ministry we've experienced. They appreciated the time and so did we. Once again, we get to share in the life and ministry of others. This is a privilege, not an obligation. It's also a responsibility.
I see this type of mentoring and ministry of encouragement as our responsibility. Who? Those of us who are older and experienced in ministry, and who live a life of faith in God's kingdom.
[bctt tweet="Those of us who are older & experienced need to mentor & encourage others younger than us"]
Susan and I feel a strong commitment about this. It's part of our passing the baton to another generation. Isn't that the responsibility of every generation? I'm pretty sure that's been true for centuries, and I see that as God's plan for His kingdom.
So...that's why this post is late this Monday. Anyway, it's a national holiday, a time to be a little laid back ;-)
What are some God-arranged relational interruptions you've had?
BTW, here's a link to the (unedited) message I shared this Sunday titled Don't Drift Away–