August 2016

Greetings in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!


Cabinet maker—gardener—iconographer—parent:  These represent a different models of ministry, not in the sense of opposition, but in the sense that a different focus and emphasis is present in each.  What is different in each model is how we are intentional about paying attention to God’s revealed will, and then seeking to enact this will in ministry.

A cabinet maker is focused on a very specific finished product that is built to a detailed plan.  The degree of finish and precision is generally up to the maker, within specified overall dimensions, but what will be made and how it will be made requires precision and attention to detail.  The plan/design matters.  (A more extreme example might involve what a machinist does.)  A gardener may have a very specific plan in mind, or may just be concerned with what he intends to grow, in what quantities, and how to maximize results within a given set of conditions.  Once the gardener plants, she will tend the garden (watering, weeding, protecting from pests) to ensure the best results, but will otherwise allow nature to take its course until the harvest.  The gardener can be less precise and must allow for the earth, the weather, and time to yield a result.

An iconographer must be as precise as a cabinet maker, and works to a revealed plan/image/color scheme.  But and iconographer must be very intentional in prayer, and must allow the work to rest when the answer to prayer does not involve a call to more work.

Parents experience that however much they would like to work to plan/design, and however much they are attentive to cultivation, the person who will result from their parenting will not precisely reflect the aspirations and intentions of the parent.  This is because each child is a unique person who will develop his or her own passions and interests that will diverge or converge with the parents’ interests on the basis of an independent will.

What each model of ministry reflects (and what parents often are vexed in) is the degree of variation between what we allow to happen in a given set of conditions, and what we seek to impose our will upon through active intervention.  We want to be in charge, and even when we can’t be completely in charge, we want to control as many steps in the process as we can.

In the case of ministry, however, the “process” is God’s work.  He calls and equips us to be His instruments, but the work is God’s.  This means that we cannot be cabinet makers in mission.  We can focus on intended result, and seek to be faithful in detail, but the plan/design revealed by God will never be static.  As gardeners we can focus on intended result, but recognize that what we tend is what will be grown by God’s will.  As iconographers we can seek to be faithful to the pattern of ministry revealed, but in being faithful must allow that there are times when the only focus we can bring is one in prayer.  And, of course, we can’t be parents in ministry—midwives, perhaps—but the new life which results will be that of a child of God, not of our ministry.  Craft—tend—pray—be present:  The wholeness of ministry is revealed and lived in different ways, different gifts, through all members of the Body.

What is to be our ministry model in a season of change (e.g., in our music ministry)?  Our ministry must be centered in prayer, in listening to God and seeking to discern His will.  As in every season of change now is time for each one of us to prayerfully consider what God is calling me to do, who He is calling me to be in the Church and the community.  Pray constantly that God’s will might be manifest, and that we may be equipped to do His will.  And pray together.  Gather in prayer.  Our “ministry model” includes many opportunities throughout each week to gather with others in prayer, prayer in which the supreme craftsman, gardener, iconographer and Father comes to us to reassure us of His presence, will, and blessing.  Our response is key, to be sure, but to respond we must first apprehend and experience.  To do this we must pay attention.  Pay attention in prayer, and just as a cabinet maker, gardener, iconographer (and particularly a parent) gives of him/herself in “ministering” toward a goal/result, give of yourself.  Own the ministries to which we are called together.


Yours in Christ Jesus,



The Rev. Dr. Karl C. Schaffenburg


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