In This Issue...
- A Theology of Humor by Cheryl Taylor
- Ministering With Humor by Stephanie Nance
- Christian Leaders Having Fun? by Pam Morton with Kathy Jingling
- The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter by Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
Women in Ministry Mobilized E-Newsletter Articles
WIM - Subcriber Articles
Deal With Your Stuff
Fri, 22 Jul 2011 - 9:41 AM CST
By Vicki Judd
My daughter-in-law loves to clean and organize. Last week when she and our son visited, she took on my pantry and laundry room. The transformation was amazing. She got rid of past-dated food, duplicate appliances and kitchen tools, and turned chaos into calm, usable, accessible space. I love her!
My husband was so inspired, he decided that his office was the next project. Since our daughter-in-law had gone home, it was up to the two of us to tackle years' worth of "stuff."
My hubby is a "piler." It is his filing system (or so he says). He has a pile for the orchestra he directs, a pile for his school groups, and a pile for his summer business. Then he has piles of electronic equipment, along with cassette and video tapes that he plans to digitize, books, magazines, etc. I think you get the picture. At times he has tried to organize the piles. The room would look better for a while, but soon the piles would begin to spread and expand as if they had a life of their own. It is a very small room, and the piles had grown so much that we could barely find a clear place to step. It was nearly impossible to get anything done in that room. The clutter consumed not just space, but emotional and mental energy.
So the room was cleared and the walls were given a fresh coat of paint. We went to our local home improvement store, purchased shelves for the closet, and appropriately sized storage totes and notebooks for all those piles. That was the easy and fun part. Then came the hard work of sifting through all that "stuff." When I told him he needed to sort it all into three piles - things to keep, things to give away, and things to throw away - he gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look.
"But I need all that stuff."
"No dear, you do not."
"But I do! It's all important!"
At one time, I'm sure he absolutely did need everything in that office. But somewhere along the way the purpose had been lost or forgotten. Letting go of the belief that he might need something in the future that he hadn't needed for years would be hard work, but I knew it would be worth the effort.
As I drove away from the house that morning, leaving him with his piles to sort, I thought about how like that office my heart and mind can become. Littered with piles of cares, bad attitudes, and old ideas that I can't seem to let go. Twenty-plus years of ministry in the same church can cause a person to collect a lot of "stuff." I decided I needed to declutter my heart and mind as well.
In my throw-away pile I put hurts, criticisms, and failures. At one time they may have been necessary - even helpful in the long run. Hurts happen. Criticisms come and everyone fails. We can learn and grow through these things. However, hanging on to them just clutters the heart and takes up room for healthy, productive things.
I also put ministry methods and ideas that no longer work in the throw away pile. I've got some good memories of things that really worked in the past that simply do not in the 21st century. Longing for the "good old days" won't help me make disciples today.
My give-away pile contains wisdom gained through experience, compassion, love, mercy, and kindness. It also contains the areas of control that I'd like to keep. It's easy to get a tight grip on ministries and programs that have been fruitful and have given me a sense of accomplishment and value. I can hoard control and influence, or I can give it away. I choose to give it away.
In the keep pile, I have a huge store of relationships that have been built over the years. I'm keeping the rich reserve of God's goodness and faithfulness. I'm keeping the answered prayers. I'm keeping the call to ministry and the vision to mentor and disciple.
There's an important element to help you in this process and that is a friend who doesn't have an emotional attachment to your stuff. I need someone to ask me the hard questions. "Why are you holding on to that?" "What are you afraid of losing if you release control?" A neutral voice can bring reason when our emotion attachments make us irrational.
Hoarding cripples creativity and suffocates productivity. I'm letting go of some "stuff," but I'm keeping what matters.
The apostle Paul put it this way: "I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above" (Philippians 3:12-14, NCV).
Vicki Judd is the women's ministries and adult Christian education pastor at Bethel Church in Chehalis, Washington. She has served in music ministries at Bethel Church for over 20 years. Vicki is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God and a graduate of Berean University. She and her husband, David, have four grown children.