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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Wreck this Journal

My lovely wife gave me a gift for my birthday that is absolutely driving me nuts.

She knows very well that I love blank journals. Give me a Moleskine and I go to my happy place. And if a pen comes with it, all the better.  It is an article of faith for me that a person can never have too many journals or too many pens. 

So here’s this gift called “Wreck This Journal.” Every page has an instruction on it.  For example:

  • Figure Out A Way To Freeze This Page
  • Write With The Pen In Your Mouth
  • Draw Lines With Your Pen or Pencil, Then Lick Your Finger And Smear The Lines
  • Rub Here With Dirt
  • Place Sticky Things (Honey, Gum, Syrup, Glue, Sucker, Marshmallow) Here. 

As a respecter of journals, these are not easy things for me to do.  They go against my very nature.  Journals are semi-holy things in my book.  (Make that my journal.) These seem like instructions on how to defile the semi-holy. It’s like using your green stole to polish your shoes.The birthday is a couple weeks in the past now.  Every day I look through the journal and think I ought to try one of these things, but…. 

Well, I did try writing with the pen in my mouth this morning. It is not legible at all, but I am working at it, and figuring out a way to freeze a page. Getting pushed out of my comfort zone is a good thing now and then. Not comfortable, but good. 

So here are all of you wonderful interns starting out on the internship year. Expect to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Expect to be asked to do things you don’t think you can do, or maybe even should do. Expect to handle situations that are beyond your pay grade and level of expertise. Expect to do things you never imagined a pastor doing. If the whole year goes by, and you have not been pushed out of your comfort zone, then your internship year has been less than we would hope it to be. Relax and venture these strange new things!

But don’t start feeling special. Your supervisors…they are getting pushed out of their comfort zones every day, too. Just when you think you have seen it all, or done it all, something new and different and challenging comes along.

That’s what makes ministry, well, fun.

By the way: one page in my journal says “Collect Dead Bugs Here.” Contributions welcome!

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