One of the first ministries I found myself in after becoming a Christian was Apartment Life. My wife and I were a CARES team and we would hold pool parties, give welcome visits to new residents, and wrap Christmas presents for folks. This ministry was very fun and enjoyable and really helped keep Kara (my wife) and I accountable to our mission and calling which is to share the Gospel of Christ and make disciples
As you can imagine the preparation for these events took a bunch of prep work and time. As any hospitable person knows there is a bunch of stress that goes into making everything just right when hosting an event. And since this was the first ministry that Kara and I served in together since getting married we just had different expectations of what an event should look like. She thought it needed to be perfect and I was a little bit….a lot more laid back about it. This as you could imagine could end in conflict if we were not careful.
I can clearly remember telling Kara to just buy Cheetos and toss them in a bowl for the guest. I’m an accountant and process manager by trade so I know the quickest most efficient way to get things done. I do it for a living. But event after event there was my wife taking time to cut up fruit and stick it in bowls for a bunch of kids at an after school program every week.
One of the kids that came to our event must have been 13-15 years of age, a young man named Richard. Richard lived at home with his mom, and two half brothers, no dad, & it showed. Richard was rough, I remember he would write raps with terrible language, talk about things kids shouldn’t watch, and act ways in which a young man should not.
Week after week he would come and week after week we would end our after school program with a Bible study. Richard would stay because of his two younger brothers but never acted any different. About 6 months later, after Bible study had ended with the kids club it happened. Richard walking out with his brothers turned around looked right at me and said “you and Kara really love us don’t you”. In my head I thought boy I must have just hit a cord with some good preaching during Bible study. I looked back at him and said “Yes Richard, we do really love you guys. What made you think that”. His reply cut me like a knife when he said, “The CARES team before you just but Cheetos in a bowl for snack each week, but you guys cut up fresh fruit.”
As Richard walked out that day; I looked at Kara with a look of “I know you told me”. Both Kara and I were encouraged but I had made a mistake, people are not to be managed like a process. People are people and want to be treated as such. I think most of my mistakes in ministry have been when I’m “doing a process”. The little things count in large amounts and the time my wife was putting into preparation was seen by an unbelieving, rough kid as love. To be honest my preaching wasn’t what was teaching him about love, it was my wife’s ability to serve to her best ability even if it wasn’t the easy way. And in the process of communicating love to Richard, she helped me to learn about love too.