Life is pretty daily! I know that might sound funny, but it is. And ministering and serving others is the same way. It’s very daily. As unspiritual as it might sound, ministry can be very ordinary. In our culture of excitement, we expect our discipling of others to always be magical. We imagine angels singing behind us in our daily praying for others. And yet most times, it’s just standard ritual.
Therefore, in the midst of ministry that is every day in nature, it can become easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. In the day to day service and the sharing of our lives with those around us, we can forget why we do what we do. We can lose sight of the forrest for the trees, so to speak.
I recently read about a story of two stonecutters. Each was asked what they were doing. One responds, “I am cutting stone in a perfectly square shape.” The other responds, “I am building a cathedral.”
Personally, I sometimes forget the bigger picture. I fail to remember that it’s larger than just “cutting stone in a perfectly square shape.” It’s about building a kingdom. It’s about being a part of something grander than myself though the task at the time might appear routine. The weekly meeting of a friend for prayer or the washing of the dishes for my family (see Theology of Washing Dishes) are in the larger scheme of things, “building a cathedral.”
If all of the above is true, then maybe we should rejoice more in the routine of ministry that is a part of the life and place we daily inhabit. I realize this is hard to do living in a world that continues to wait for the next big thing, but we must try. I love the words of Christopher Ash as he writes that “the best kinds of ministry are, more often than not, long term and low key.”
So it’s true that “we are cutting stones into squares.” Ministry can be, and really is, routine and ordinary. And yet we must never forget that we are a part of something much bigger. The writer of Hebrews tells us that those who came before us, though not sure of how it would all work out, were looking to something greater. Though our ancestors in the faith died “not having received the things promised,” they continued on for they were “desiring a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
We need to realize that we might be planting shade trees that we will never sit under. We might never see the finished product, but we must trust that anything that we do for God is not wasted, no matter how small we think it might be. So today, let’s delight in making some square stones knowing that in reality, we are building a cathedral.