Sunday, February 15, 2009

What's your ministry look like?

Last Wednesday afternoon I listened to one of my esteemed colleagues talk about his experience over in Guam as an Air Force chaplain. Pastor Dave Larsen decided to join the reserves a few years back. Since then he has done some extensive training and was hoping to go active duty at some point. He had trained for a desert detail but when the call came, he was called up to go to Guam for the holidays.

Dave talked about his experience over there and about the work of the military chaplain in general. He spoke from the heart and you could tell that it was a God given call. Then he shifted gears and began talking about ministry in a small town. Dave is the chaplain to his whole community. He is always present when things happen in Voluntown and he tries to live life in a way that he can be available to those in need.

I grew up in a small town and went to a small church in another small town. When I used to think about the ministry and what God was calling me to, I always envisioned the kind of ministry Dave has. He is a member of the fire department. He volunteers in the school. He is there at the parades and on Eastern Sunrise.

I came to Norwich 24 years ago and figured I'd be here for four or five years and move on. Norwich was "The big city" when I was growing up in nearby Colchester. With its 40,000 people I felt a little lost. My plan was to eventually move to a church on a green in a small town and settle there. Who would have guessed that I would still be here?

I remember having lunch with Dave a few years ago and we talked about our ministries. I told him how much I admired him and that one day I would like to have a ministry like his. He laughed. He told me that he admired the way I plugged into the larger community and got involved. As I listened him describe how he saw my ministry, it suddenly dawned on me that I was doing what I always wanted to do. I just didn't realize it because my vision was too small.

The truth is that many of us are doing important ministry right now. We may not recognize it because it doesn't like we had it in our imaginations. We though ministry was singing in the choir. We thought ministry was leading a Bible Study. We thought ministry was teaching Sunday School. Yet we negate the fact that people seek us out when they have problems because we give good advice. We skip right over the fact that we always support the fundraisers at the firehouse and in the PTO. We forget that raising our children with love and compassion is a pretty special ministry.

So celebrate the ministry God has given you, even if you don't quite understand it yet. For God has given each of us something unique and special to do. Praise God.


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