For the next two weeks, we'll be talking about transformational moments in ministry: Moments that have transformed our faith or changed the way we do ministry. Over the next few days, you'll hear from several women in ministry who serve in various capacities - some paid, some volunteer; some in youth ministry, some not – from various denominations around the world.
Today's post is written by Gina Abbas, another person I first met through her blog. Gina's a veteran youth worker, with experience in both parachurch and church ministry. As you can see from her blog, she's also got a huge heart for women in youth ministry.
I have kids (3). I have a large slobbery dog and we have no yard. Most of our playtime, fun time, and chill time takes place within the confines of our 3 story townhome. We play inside, spill drinks inside, and forget to take our shoes off inside. My carpet is a disaster. It's really dirty carpet. Like-so-bad- I hesitate-to- invite-anyone -over-EVER -during- daylight- hours-bad. Our entire dining area is covered in low grade carpet. The cheap stuff. The home builder ran out of money towards the end of completing our development; thus, the homes in the last phase of the project received the cheapest carpet and no frills appliances. Worked great for us since we were ready to purchase our first home during the tail-end of the real estate crash. We scored a great price on a brand spankin' new home. Three years, one dog, and three kids later our carpet looks anything but new.
Carpet, or shall I say dirty carpet has deeply impacted my walk with God and my ministry. Yes, something simple like carpet has shaped the way I do life and do ministry. Our well-worn carpet serves as an all too frequent reminder of three essential spiritual growth principles. These principles keep me grounded and make me a better youth leader.
#1) Don’t grow blind to your own mess. I walk over our carpet in my shoes, in my socks, or occasionally barefoot. Until my socks turn black or mashed up goldfish crackers get stuck between my toes, I don’t notice the filth until it’s really bad. I tend to become so used to the mess it doesn’t phase me any longer. I grow blind to the obvious “yuck” in my own home. I get used to it and so do my kids and husband. When my grandmother comes over to babysit, she brings her own socks! She puts them on when she gets here and takes them off before she leaves. She knows my carpet is dirty and prepares accordingly. Whether in ministry, in life, or in our walk with Jesus, we can be all too unwilling to notice our own junk. It usually takes someone else to remind us “it shouldn’t be this way!” Do you have anyone who can peek into your life, into your soul, and point out the areas in your own life or ministry that need cleaning? It’s just too easy to ignore the mess we live in.
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” Romans 6:1-2
2) When you start to dim the lights to hide things... watch out! My carpet, and to be honest our white FLAT painted walls (the paint comes off anytime you try to clean it with anything!) can be embarrassing. I am always relieved when friends come over for dinner after daylight savings time ends. Why? Because it’s darker! It gets dark at like 4:30 pm instead of 8 pm. I can dim the lights, burn some pretty candles and bask in the glow of no one noticing just how bad those carpet stains are! Everything looks pretty with the lights dimmed. But give me some daylight shining through my windows and the stains and fingerprints are pretty hard to ignore. In life, in ministry, in personal choices, on Facebook, make sure to live with nothing to hide. Invite the light in and see what needs to get cleaned up in your life. When you wish for darkness to hide in, you need help...FAST!
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5: 11-13
3) Live within arms reach of rescue. My neighbor cleans carpets. Like God knew I needed help so he moved a carpet cleaner to my neighborhood?!? Really? A carpet cleaning van parked right outside my kitchen window?!? Help one quick phone call away?!? Rescue is often closer than you think. My carpet neighbor friend came over to clean my carpets and yes, I was kind of embarrassed for him to see just how bad the carpet looked. I met him out by the garage and uttered “It’s bad”. He graciously smiled and replied, “We can get it cleaned up.” Like it was no big deal and we were in it together. We can get it cleaned up. Even though he was doing all the work, infusing grace into my much needed domestic soul. My mess was now his mess, and he was there to help. Smiling and immediately feeling less embarrassed, I let him into my home and he cleaned my filthy carpet. He made it look new again. I can invite people over now during the day time.
Clean carpet made me hopeful the next time my grandma visits, she won’t have to put on her “dirty house” socks. When life gets dirty and sin begins to be ignored, is there help within reach? Can someone come and help you begin cleaning up the stains in your soul before the mess gets any worse? If you keep everyone at arms length and become too embarrassed to let anyone see your mess, your life will stay just that. A mess. Is there a carpet cleaner on your speed dial? Because you can only take your ministry as far as you yourself can go. So if dirty carpet is cramping your style, get it taken care of.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Other posts in this series: