Two days ago, my friend Zoren texted me. He’d been awarded school Teacher of the Year, and as part of the application to qualify for district’s Top 10, he had to complete several essay questions. Nine pages of ‘em.
“I was wondering if you would be willing to help me out in the writing process?” he asked.
Yes. The answer was yes. Unquestionably, easily, without a doubt, yes. Not only did I want to help my friend out, (and so excited about this for him!!!), but to help Zoren with his writing was not a difficult chore. I knew I had a talent for words, and to help him with an application would be easier than signing up for one of those HIIT workout classes at the gym.
So when we did meet up, I was happy to help him brainstorm. It was easy to organize answers and draw up theses. I let him talk and externally process as we ate Chick-fil-A. “This is what I hear you’re saying,” I said to him at intervals. “What do you think about prioritizing this for question __?”
He nodded. He agreed. And when he was unsure, he clarified what it was that he was trying to say. I didn’t write the essays for him, but I could tell how grateful he was to have someone help him. And when he walked away, I watched him walk away relieved.
It reminded me of the previous weekend when I asked one of my friends to help decorate my home. Carol Ann was the first person I thought of when I moved into my place, since her own house feels like a colorful, comfortable, getaway AirBnB. And despite my best attempts to move furniture around, my condo still looked like an assembly of storage spaces.
But Carol Ann is an artist. She’s someone who sees colors and patterns and all the little details that matter. She knows where you need more soft lighting and which pillows would look best against the beige sofa. And thankfully, she wasn’t bothered to drive over and help me.
I watched in amazement－and extreme thankfulness－as she rearranged my furniture and swapped living room lamps. She took paintings I had lying against the carpet and she strategized their best location. And all of a sudden, I was standing on my couch in glee…
My house suddenly looked like a home! I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time because the space I’d been less-than-enthused about immediately became my favorite room. It felt like I could really live here, I could feel at home. And though I could’ve potentially reached this place with an interior decorator and the rest of my savings, I was even more grateful Carol Ann came as a friend and not as a paid professional.
I think about these two circumstances and I see them so clearly as moments of ministry. Traditional, reaching-out-to-someone-in-need kind of ministry. Only, the service was an act of creativity; namely, writing and interior design.
I know that neither Zoren’s or my circumstance demanded $500, hours of labor, and church communities on a prayer-cycle. But I will always remember that feeling when Carol Ann brought in more natural light to my living room. It was like my heart exhaled. “Yes,” my body said in response. “We can breathe here. We can rest.”
I think that this gift of our talents in the ordinary is such an organic form of creative ministry. There isn’t a third-party looking, a deadline looming, or a paycheck waiting. It’s just the simple gesture of help on a Friday afternoon.
I know provision is good and making an income is important. It’s crucial we don’t bend ourselves out for the world’s expense. But I want to remember the heart behind the Creator and that creativity was never meant for my own riches. At its core, creativity was meant for ministry.
Featured Image by Khoa Nguyen