I Find People Extremely Exhausting

Bonhoeffer quote, Life Together, I find people extremely exhaustingNot My Words - but Those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer*
Who deeply loved people. Who was fully commiited to people. Who made great sacrifices for people.

And who taught those who were studying to become pastors, that before they seek to be excellent in preaching and leading - they must be excellent in serving. When I recently read Life Togehter, the chapter on ministry, I was really struck by the first FIVE TASKS OF MINISTRY Bonhoeffer described.

ONE: The ministry of holding one's tongue (ouch, ouch ouch - for those of us who are wordy, love words, love to speak, love to hear ourselves speak, love to have others hear us speak and just generally talk too much). I should have stopped reading at that point. But being a glutton for punishment I went on.

TWO:  The ministry of meekness. Okay, why am I reading this stuff? That isn't high on the list of leadership qualities most sought after.

THREE:  The ministry of listening. Let me see, I must have missed the seminary course on the ministry of listening.

FOUR:  The ministry of helpfulness. I was doing alright on that, until Bonoeffer happened, just to sort of drop in the idea that to be helpful, we must be in a state of constant willingness to let  God interrupt our routines. Can I get a break on any of these ministries?

FIVE:  The ministry of bearing burdens. No comment...!

Bonhoeffer talks about all this "way of ministry" before he deals with issues of preaching and leading. Then, when he talks about those issues, you go away thinking - "Hmmm, I really need a reordering of the work of ministry."

No wonder Bonhoeffer was forthright about people. 

"I find people extremely exhausting."

In this, he was simply honest about the reality of being in Life Together with the typical, normal, everyday follower of Jesus. Needy, broken, in process, torn, twisted, pulled, messy, sinful, opinionated . . . and forgiven, loved, cherished and valued by Christ.

So that is why we do the kind of ministry we do.
And that is why such ministry is exhausting.
And that is why Bonhoeffer had such wisdom about the replenishing spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, immersion in Scripture, prayerfulness, worship, communion and others.

Without the replenishing means of grace, we will not have the stamina or desire to continue on in the ministry that brings us into constant connection with people who are extremely exhausting.

LEADERS . . . how is this resonating with you? How are you doing? What do you see as new and next steps?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership  ConneXtions International


* Well, maybe they are my words as well.