Last week I had a conversation on Facebook with a teenage girl which reminded me of the massive differences between boys and girls growing up. Girls stay up late at night planning their weddings and talking, guys stay up late wrestling and shooting each other with fake guns. Not saying there aren’t girls who like to shoot fake guns but seems as if this is just built into little boys. Somehow the Lord places within young men the desire to be a great hero and from the earliest age we begin emulating the stars we see in the movies and on television.
Although I don’t remember it my parents like to talk about my running around the house at four years old wearing a bathrobe and swinging an imaginary lightsaber as Luke Skywalker. Later as a teen I would perform a patented Randy Macho Man Savage elbow drop off the couch onto a helpless pillow after watching Saturday morning wrestling. Or sneak through the woods during an epic game of capture the flag like a ninja, always making sure to fire my team up with a passionate speech ala Braveheart (complete the word “freedom” being screamed at the top of my lungs).
This hero worship is healthy for small children because it gives challenges and allows us to exercise our imagination or dream. However when we emulate our heroes later as adults, particularly in ministry, it has disastrous results.
Upon arriving as a new Missionary in Melbourne I had sort of adopted what is called the “Rambo Method of ministry.” Basically this involves just going out and ministering without a period of planning or waiting to see if its God’s timing…after all Rambo never worried about stuff….he just tied a bandana around his head and started shooting at people. After raising support for three years I was ready to actually do some work in Melbourne and didn’t want to waste time with stuff like planning or relationship development.
Of course the “just run out and start doing stuff” method wasn’t successful and it left me wondering what kind of ministry philosophy would be needed in order to be effective on the Mission field. God’s answer was to put away the gun, take off the bandana, and just wait for his timing. Since then I have learned ministry can only be accomplished in Melbourne (and everywhere else as far as I am concerned). By taking one small step at a time.
Take for instance a volunteer ministry I have at a local school. It began with meeting a group of five or six boys who no other teacher wanted because they had serious disciplinary problems in 2010 which is far from the mentoring or teaching ministry I wanted. The Rambo method would tell the teacher this situation was unsatisfactory and demand to start working with a larger class right away, but past experience taught me that would result in nothing but failure. So four months was spent working with these boys and in 2011 they gave me an opportunity to help seventeen first and second graders….still not what I wanted but instead of demanding to see the principal I waited for the next step.
Today I am a volunteer teachers aid in Art class on Wednesdays with the teacher asking me to help on other days and tutoring children at the school with homework on Thursdays. While this still isn’t the mentoring ministry I want (God must have a sense of humor putting me in art class) the Lord has opened many doors of ministry for me during my time there because I took what He gave instead of demanding other things.
Does this mean we shouldn’t be courageous or completely committed to the work of God? Of course not! But experience has taught me the first step in an effective ministry is often putting the gun down.