I spent much of yesterday afternoon on a ladder, painting window trim on our house. By painting, I actually mean priming, since we only got the primer done and still have the finishing coat of actual paint left to do. It was not the most pleasant way to spend an afternoon off, but it needed done. I really don’t like painting trim, but I realized something about myself as I was perched on that step that says “do not sit or stand” here…
Besides having good enough balance to sit where it says don’t sit (and not enough sense to follow the directions of the ladder makers), I realized that I don’t like to put a whole lot of effort into incremental change.
The trim was white. After hours of scraping and cleaning and painting… the trim will still be white! The end product is only marginally different from the beginning. I know, the trim will be much better protected and look nicer after the fresh new paint, but I have a hard time pouring out so much effort for such a seemingly small difference. If my energy isn’t really changing anything, then what the heck am I doing?
This may be a character flaw when it comes to home maintenance, but I also wonder if it isn’t also a part of what drives me in ministry. I love seeing lives being completely renovated in ways for which only Jesus can be given credit. I get frustrated when I see a maintenance approach to youth ministry that only seeks to keep kids
busy involved for a few years until they get out of our hair graduate – just keep them from drinking and cussing and having sex out of trouble until they grow up are mature enough to make the choices I would make for them good decisions. That maintenance approach only results in incremental change… little modifications of behavior (that often disappear when no one’s looking anymore).
I want to serve in a ministry where bored and apathetic students are taken over by the passion of Jesus to reclaim hearts that have been stolen from their Maker and restore lives that have been broken beyond recognition – where dead students are brought to life. I want to pour myself into students who have been moved from “fishing and collecting taxes” to following Jesus in every moment and at any cost. I want to see students willingly “going under the bus” in order to help their friends who are hurting and hiding there.
I’ll talk about this more in my next post (which will go live Monday morning) but I want to know… are you more of a bit-by-bit incremental change type of person, or “tear it down and start over” renovator? What do you see as the pros and cons of each? (There’s no wrong answer, here, so jump right in in the comments section.)