The Unknown Result of Ministry

Thursday, June 5

By Mike Hoffman of Chandler, Arizona, USA

Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

—Philippians 4:9 NRSV

As I was flying home from a trip, the last three people to board were a mother, a teenage son, and a 10-year-old daughter. No seats were available together, so the flight attendant started placing the family in separate seats—middle seats. There was no time to reseat people to get seats together.

I had an opening in my row, and another was in the row in front of me. The attendant motioned for the 10-year-old to sit next to me and the mother in front. I could tell the girl was not happy. She drew her arms close to her torso and shook her head no as she sat down.

I said a quick prayer. Youth ministry is part of my calling. It would have been easier in some ways to just ignore her, but instead I asked God to show me a way to help her be more comfortable.

I took out my phone (we were now above 10,000 feet), and I opened it to pictures of Farah, my 9-month-old granddaughter. Almost immediately, the girl, named Aspen, started to relax and comment about the pictures. Of course, we then went on to talk.

By the end of the almost-three-hour flight, Aspen was curled in her seat, under a blanket, with her head on my shoulder. It wasn’t the most comfortable position for me, but I wondered how my hospitality—the hospitality of a stranger—might affect her life. I will never know. That is one of the unknowns to ministry with children and youth. It was a mutual exchange, however. Her presence and conversation on that flight blessed me.

Prayer for Peace Creator God, give us the courage to risk our comfort for the comfort of others. Help us be willing to accept inconvenience to share peace.

Spiritual Practice: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All Reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt God’s love in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will respond to an unhappy stranger with faith that your Spirit will make the difference.

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1 Comment

  1. John Collet

     /  5 June 2014

    My first thought was to get up and go to other row so the mother and daughter could sit together.

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