A few weeks ago I asked friends in Sunday School to pray about a new volunteering ministry I was thinking about joining, and one of them expressed amazement at all the volunteer opportunities I’m involved with. I didn’t have the heart to confess there was a selfish motivation for my volunteering other than sharing the Gospel…it’s trying to find something exciting to share with others.
Of course there is nothing wrong with looking for funny pictures, cool stories, and ideas for Facebook updates or blog posts while doing ministry; in fact this is a healthy thing since it shares with prayer supporters what the Lord is doing. However It’s easy to become so focused on finding that sharable moment that you can get the idea ministry is always filled with them, The truth is ministry isn’t always exciting, there days when it’s (dare I say it?) Boring.
That’s right boring….for every day I get fifteen likes for that awesome ministry picture there are four or five when ministry looks like this
The first picture is from a few weeks ago when I helped put together a 500 letter mailing at a local school for children with special needs. My role there every week from 8:45 in the morning till 3:00 in afternoon is to cover the front desk, which involves such thrilling activities as answering the phone, opening the door of visitors, and on the really crazy days they let me laminate something!
The second picture comes from a food pantry where I volunteer for three hours on Friday afternoons. Believe me when I say the idea of sorting through a gigantic shipment of Ramen Noodles and sorting them in the back so they could be stocked later was never viewed as “ministry.” Neither was organizing the canned beans section so people won’t find Lima Beans with the Pinto’s (blasphemy!) Or making sure they all were lined up properly. Yet even though these things may not “feel or seem” like ministry the truth is they are an integral part of reaching the unsaved in my community.
Why is it important for us to embrace boring ministry? First of all in today’s culture its harder than ever before to share the Gospel since in most cases there needs to be a relationship or friendship with that unsaved person. The only way this can be done is through conversation and connection, usually done during everyday experiences. These boring ministries allow us to develop that relationship slowly over time instead of trying to earn others trust right away.
Boring ministry also helps us earn the respect of unsaved people, which is vitally important today when Christians are viewed as fake or hypocritical. Being faithful to Christ when things are frustrating or boring can go a long way towards showing the difference Christ makes in a life.
Finally anyone who feels ministry’s always exciting is fooling themselves. This becomes dangerous because many of those individuals end up quitting on ministry since they don’t “feel called.” There have been days for me as a Missionary when if someone offered a plane ticket back to America I would have taken it, but that didn’t change the fact that God had called me to the lost of Australia.
Life is filled with boring, frustrating, and exhausting experiences that seem as if they have nothing to do with the plan of God for our lives. But the good news is they are indeed used by the Lord to develop Biblical character and share a Godly testimony to those who don’t know Christ.
So whether it’s answering phones, sorting through ramen, or something much more serious (five days with my niece and nephew has given me a newfound respect for young mothers) we can rest in the fact that this boring or exhausting ministry does bring Glory to God.