Editor’s note: All of us at the Barnabas Partneship have been praying for you and your church as you go through unchartered waters in these last few weeks due to the coronoavirus pandemic. But we also felt that we needed to bring a sense of “normalcy” by posting this article because ministry must still continue. Our prayer is that this crisis will soon pass and that we all can be better equipped to encourage our churches.
by Rev. Steve Zimmerman
If you stay in ministry long enough, you can’t help but get some things from church members where you have served. My office is full of memorabilia from the various stops on my ministry journey. But there has been one thing that has become more precious to me in the past few months.
The stick you see in the picture above is something that a long time children’s lay leader in a North Carolina church gave me years ago. Mr. Mack was known for his love of children and they responded in kind. Maybe he gave this wooden rod to me because I was turning 50 and needed some encouragement! Whatever the reason, it has been in storage these past ten years until I had a sore shoulder recently.
If you have ever gone to physical therapy, they give you exercises to do at home to work out the pain or recover from a surgery. One of my exercises was to grab a stick, have it go across my chest and raise both good and bad shoulders with the aid of the stick. The theory behind it is that the stick is being used by the good shoulder to help my weakened shoulder. Just think! An ordinary stick was being used to ease my pain and give me some spiritual enlightenment.
Here are some points that it has taught me.
- It is plain but effective. I didn’t have to go out and get the most expensive therapy tool. All I needed was already there. When you need support in ministry, don’t overlook those people in your ministry circles. They know you best and may be the right ones to turn to for support.
- It has more than one purpose. For many people this rod is a perfect walking stick. But it has found a new use in my home. Don’t always label a church member or staff person with one gift just because they do a certain job real well in church. You might be surprised that they may want to use their resources in a new and creative way. Who knows? They may even be more effective in their new role at your church.
- It keeps me honest. There is a good chance that if I didn’t use this stick to help me in my therapy, I probably would not be doing the maximum stretching that I need to do for my sore shoulder. Without the stick my temptation could easily not go to the same level as the good shoulder and thereby not get the most out of my therapy. If we are true to ourselves and to those around us in ministry, we must have additional support because our energy is not good enough to do all that we need to do with all the demands our roles incur.
Now we at the Barnabas Partnership don’t always consider ourselves as simple sticks. Yet we are here to be beside you, support you and have you start reaching for your fullest ministry potential. When you need that extra stretch, we can be there for you! We’ll even promise not to be too sticky!
These thoughts above are from Rev. Steve Zimmerman, the founding partner in the ministry. He works alongside churches in their mission process and small group dynamics. He coordinates the work of the partnership out of Danville, Virginia. For more information about how he can help you, contact him at 336.214.3958 or [email protected]