As we begin another week and another week of “Ministry Lessons Learned From the Laundry Room,” today Patti is talking about a mixed load.
I like things neat and orderly and to make sense. I like rules that are good for me, boundaries to keep me safe and guidelines to keep me focused. I like that in the laundry room as well.
But every once in awhile a random item will show up that doesn’t fit into any neat category. Perhaps it is a white dishtowel with a bright red stripe, or a white sock with a bright blue stripe, or a brightly colored undergarment. They all by function scream I need warm water to be washed properly, but adding them to a white’s warm water load will scream back at you “Don’t Do It!”
If you do, you will spend the next minutes wondering how this mixed load is getting along and who is causing problems for the rest? Will the brights take a leap onto the pristine whites or will the bleach additive that was added to the detergent fade the brights?
You question yourself over and over and wonder why you did not heed what you know and not mix the incompatible loads. Why did you not set aside those random pieces for another load? You know you have done it before and the results were not good. What went in was not what came out. Perhaps the entire mixed load was ruined, never to be pristine white, or happily bright again.
What does this have to do with ministry life?
Sometimes we are presented with opportunities that just do not fit our load. Perhaps it is the wrong time, the wrong gift or most times it is the mixing of wrong things together.
Gifting, timing, and resources should mesh and not cause messes. Once done, it is hard to undo.
Perhaps it is an opportunity that presents itself and the people involved are not going to mesh together well no matter how much you want it to. If we see this ahead of time, it is wise to alleviate the problems of the “mixed load” and pause and make alternate plans this time around.
This includes each of us as we minister alongside those that we minister to. We must know who we mesh with and who we mess with.
Scripture tells us that we are one body with many members and each member has a place.
Romans 12:4-6 (NIV)
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
When our body parts are doing their jobs properly and working together, we breathe, we walk, we can even jump. But sometimes we have a random condition that impedes the unity of our body working together. In those times we must discern what is working and what is not and make adjustments.
Just like our physical body and just like the items that find their way into our laundry pile, we need discernment to know what meshes together and what causes messes.
Ministry for and with people is a joy. God has set us to work together in harmony.
Discern who you are ministering to and with, and make sure you are meshing and not messing.
Ministry can be messy and we don’t need to make it messier by mixing up the load. Sometimes we jump into volunteering in areas that aren’t even our spiritual gift and end up causing more of a mess than help. We are here to walk with you on this journey. Please let us know how we can help you.
Photo courtesy Flickr user Dejan Krsmanovic via the Creative Commons license.