Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Ministry of interrupted moments

Take a look at what Jesus had to say when his men were arguing about who among them was greatest. Notice what Jesus did and what he said:

Luke 9:46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." Jesus used a child as His example, but the general principle is – be kind and helpful to the least important people you may meet. Fill each and every day with thousands of small, minuscule, mundane … seemingly random … acts of kindness. Make it a way of life.

That way of living means we have to be willing to be interrupted. Most random acts of kindness won’t show up on your “to-do” list. These opportunities have a way of surprising us … sometimes in our busiest moments.

I had one such unscheduled event a while back when a man came to my office asking if he could do some work so he could earn some gas money to drive back to Austin where he lived. For some reason this man touched me, and I invited him to tell me his story. It was too involved to share it all here , but it involved the fact that he and his wife had argued and he left home planning to have nothing more to do with his family. While here in San Antonio he had a chance to rethink his decision and now he wanted to go home and try to make things work with his wife and be there with his kids. I spoke with him for two hours, took him to lunch, had him do some work for me so I could pay for his gas myself, and finally prayed with him as I sent him on his way back to his family.

Nothing I said that day changed his mind, he had already decided what he needed to do. The most I can say is that I was able to be a Christian brother to him that day and to encourage him to do what he already knew in his heart to do. And his desire to do the right thing also encouraged me. It took up half a day I hadn’t intended to spend that way, but I felt like I had really done ministry in a way that made a difference in someone’s life, and believe it or not, his words also inspired and encouraged me.

It could have been so different If I had decided that I didn't have time to waste with this stranger, and had blown him off so I could stick to my pre-arranged schedule. I could have avoided ministry for the sake of productivity that day. I'm glad I went the ministry route instead. Naturally, such occasions don't always turn out that positive, but I wonder how often I miss out on ministry moments by being too tied to my busy schedule to give ministry a chance to happen. At the end of my life I doubt if I will be gladdest for all the days I checked off all the items on my to do list, but I may remember fondly some of those times when ministry blew in and interrupted my otherwise placid day. Just a thought. Ed

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