It’s hard to work in a mess. Sometimes that mess is highly organized, but there’s just so much there that it’s still a highly organized mess. Take my desk for example. I knew where everything was; I knew what everything was (although I didn’t always know why it was there). I felt like Val Kilmer in the 80’s flick Real Genius where he scans the complete mess in his dorm room and declares that it is a highly complex filing system, picking up a random piece of junk he says, “Like this, is under ‘E’ for ‘toy’.” I eventually had to concede, it was time to clean my desk. I needed to clear away some of the clutter to make room for new things — new ideas, new habits, new patterns, and new thoughts. Rather than managing the mess of the past, I had to make room to move forward.
Decluttering is a very liberating feeling. I never really realized what a burden it was to sit in my highly organized mess until I cleared away the papers that had been collecting and all the books I “needed to get to” were put on shelves. I threw away a lot of ideas I thought I’d get to, but wasn’t really excited about (some convention or article probably convinced me I “should” look into this program or that task). Now it’s like a clean start, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s so much easier to identify, think on, organize, and move forward with the things I feel God has placed on my heart to do, rather than managing the highly organized mess that previously surrounded me.
Let me ask you a pointed question: Is your church like this? Is your church a highly organized mess with programs and events cluttering up the calendar and structure that you aren’t even sure contribute to your calling and mission, but you just assume you’re supposed to have them? Do you try to offer “something for everyone?” Does your staff/volunteers and members feel overwhelmed by too many options and none of them are very well attended? Are you trying to meet too many expectations? It’s very possible that what is stymieing your growth, personally and corporately, is the clutter in your church. It’s like being a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. It’s time to clear a space (on your calendar and in your office), to sit and listen, and then to focus on the few things you are convinced God has called you to do. Can’t remember what that is? Then go back and reflect on your calling into ministry and see what comes from that.
God has called you to serve him, but it’s so easy to allow the expectations of others, the success of others, the expectations or judgments of culture to shape what you do rather than the still small voice of God who is inviting you into what he is already doing. Our celebrity culture admonishes us to follow the example of big successful ministries, but we seldom stop to think 1) if that’s what God really has for us, and 2) if so, what does our first step look like because we can’t have a “finished product” at step one. Even the big churches had to start small. What has God called you to, and what do you need to focus on, spend your energy on, and invest your resources in to be faithful to the call of God? Prayerfully clear away some of the clutter that is keeping you from your success.