I am afraid of heights. To anyone who knows me, this is no revelation. As a child I got “stuck” on the top of my neighbor’s jungle gym, paralyzed with fear. As an adult I had a moment where I thought I might be stuck on my own roof. The roof-to-ladder transition, and ladder-to-roof, is terrifying. The scariest rides in an amusement park for me are the ferris wheel and the sky ride. Sometimes I get a tingling sensation looking over the balcony on the second level of the mall. Yes, I have accepted my wimpy-ness.
Normally, this doesn’t come into play in ministry. Most of my work is done on solid ground. Around holidays though, my fear becomes evident. I hand the Christmas decorations up to the people on the ladders. On Friday, as we prepared the sanctuary for Easter, I helped set up chairs while the lead pastor draped the cross (see picture). And on Saturday I helped move the lift from place to place while others went up in it to maintain projectors and change light bulbs. Twenty foot extension ladders and mechanical lifts are not things I can handle without a great deal of fear. There are others to do those things, so I don’t. Well, most of the time I don’t.
Then there are times when I open the church and some decorations have fallen, or when on a mission trip I am assigned to paint a two story house with a group of teenagers. At those times, despite my fear, I climb the ladder and get the job done.
In ministry heights aren’t normally an issue, but there are other areas of ministry with which I’m also uncomfortable. Things that don’t fit my gifts, abilities, or personality – like the conversation that is going to be confrontational or the hospital visit with the person I don’t know. Maybe for you it is being called upon to pray in front of hundreds, or to plan an event, or when someone appears at your office door with tears in their eyes. Despite your discomfort, you fight the fear and dive in.
Every morning since the beginning of the new year, I have gotten up early to exercise. It is not comfortable, but it is good for me. I have noticed I’m improving. It gets easier. When it gets too easy I ratchet it up a notch by adding weight or going faster. Discomfort leads to growth.
It would be much more comfortable to keep the routine the same. It would be even more comfortable to stay in bed. But I want improve. To keep getting healthier, I need to be uncomfortable every morning. The same is true of my ministry. If I want to grow, I need to be willing to work through the discomfort.
But, I’m still not getting into the lift any time soon. There are other parts of the body of Christ who can do that.