Real Ministry, Real Friendship

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer patience and faith that nurturing relationships requires. Tasks can be completed, and career success can be measured, but how do you take stock of friendship? Community, friendship, family – none of these provide the thrill of objective success. There is no victorious endpoint; just the opportunity for more struggle, growth and learning. When we fill our lives with tasks, we can maintain the illusion of control. Once we enter the realm of genuine relationship, however, it’s impossible to hide the fact that we’re not in charge. Our lives depend on the choices of others.

I’ve been discovering the terrible joy of this reality in my own life lately. As tough as it is to give up my grandiose visions and dreams of measurable success, the call to be in relationship keeps growing stronger. I’m invited to reach out to my neighbors, my literal neighbors, the people who live in my geographical area. I am given the exquisite challenge of opening my life to the people all around me who are in need of love and support.

I’m learning that I’m in need of these things, too. The deeper I move into relationship, the more I realize how desperately I need others, too. Friendship, in the truest sense, is not about me reaching down to help others with their problems. It is more like one blind man calling out to another, hoping that together we can find the way. Steeped in a sense of my own need and brokenness, I am discovering a model of ministry that leads from a point of desperation.

When I am truly in touch with my own need, I can no longer pick and choose the people I’d like to be in relationship with. Instead, they pick me, through their hunger for deeper meaning, and their willingness to share life with me, no strings attached. The more I get in touch with the reality of my own condition, the less I stop judging other people’s worthiness. I need friends, companions in this journey of discipleship. I’ll walk alongside anyone who seeks to be faithful to Christ in community.

I won’t sugarcoat it: It’s disorienting and humiliating to no longer feel in control of my own life. Yet, to my great joy and surprise, I’m finding that this way of transparent brokenness and unabashed vulnerability is a whole lot more fulfilling than my old ways of operating. At the end of the day, relationship is worth a whole lot more than achievement, and friendship is better than fame. Discovering brothers and sisters who will walk the sometimes lonely path of discipleship with me is the greatest gift of all.