Major remodel in the RV – moving the kids to the back “master bedroom”, wife and I are out in the main area. Mostly this is so we can get up, make coffee and pray in the morning while they sleep in. I also went out to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought some nice real down comforters for everyone. We’ve tossed out all of the miscellaneous crappy blankets we brought from our old home. Last night was a test-run, and it was great. I mean, really nice. Its’ been hard living with everyone in this small space, and every little thing helps.
I had a great conversation with my coach Tom Curran the other day. He was kind enough to speak some hard truths to me about my dream to build a men’s ministry. He reminded me of two important points:
First, if I am not actively involved in this ministry in a hidden way now, there’s no reason to think I’ll magically start doing it when I have arranged things so that I can do it full-time.
He told me a story. When he was in seminary, life was very easy. Everything was taken care of for them, and everyone praised the seminarians for their goodness and courage to answer their call. He noticed that there was a tendency in himself and in the other seminarians to imagine that, once out of seminary, they would then begin to live a life of sacrafice, hardship and prayer. He was insightful enough to see that if he was not doing this already, there was no reason to think he’d be able to suddenly be able to do this when things got hard.
Similarly, I have a burning desire to help rescue the hearts of men, and dream of a time when I can do this full-time as a ministry; perhaps when I retire. I want to retire sooner so I can begin. Tom pointed out that if I am not doing this now in an “inner” way, there’s no reason to imagine I’ll somehow magically do it when I have more time devoted to it. Am I praying for men now? Am I offering sacrifices, fasting, living on behalf of them, in place of them? How much ease and comfort do I live in? Ouch. What a kick in the spiritual nuts. He’s right, of course.
Here’s his words from the call (paraphrased) “Don’t tell me you want to live your life for men in the future if you are not living for them now. Right now, today, you can start your men’s ministry. You can start fasting, stay up an hour later, chose a less comfortable chair, spend less time on internet, don’t have pleasant foods, etc. On behalf of men, you can fast for men to be victorious in areas of spiritual oppression.”
Next, he reminded me of this relationship hierarchy:
- Service to God (Ministry)
I was groaning about my burning desire to rescue the hearts of men (like mine has been rescued), and how I wanted to start now. He described in his life how he refuses to build his ministry “on the backs of his wife and kids”. I’ve seen first hand what it looks like when people drag their family through hell in pursuit of their “ministry”. Heck, in many ways I do it myself. I’m talking about the time should spend but don’t spend with my wife or my kids, because I’m on the phone “rescuing” a friend or acquaintance. I’m talking about all of the ways that I’m checked out, gone limp and passive in my family life, but I’m “on fire” in my ministry. All of the ways that I talk the talk of a life with God to men, but fail to walk the walk.
Here’s what he said (paraphrased): “Don’t tell me about how your ministry is going well while your work is suffering. Don’t tell me how your work is going well while your kids suffering. Don’t tell me how things are going well with your kids while your relationship with your wife is suffering. don’t tell me about how good things are with your wife while your time with Lord is suffering.”
Sobering stuff, no? I was thinking about this this morning, after yet another morning of not waking up in time to do some significant, quiet time in prayer…
Sigh – I know my posts all seem negative. I guess I just like to post about my inner struggles to grow into the man feel I could be. But it’s not all negative! The sun is shining into the RV, I’ll be going to Mass today with the family, then out on a date with Michelle. We’re having a hell of an adventure.