Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Once upon a time, I joined a traveling drama ministry. I people-watched a lot. I get carsick easily so I couldn’t read or watch a movie.
Many people, when working alongside each other for the sake of something greater, turn to their left or right and find that other person attractive. They start dating, must to the chagrin of the other ministry members. Thus the countdown begins. We’re all sitting back thinking, “when they eventually break-up, I hope at least one of them stays.” Obviously, when the relationship crashes and burns, both parties cannot continue indefinitely to serve in this capacity. At the very least, they will be distracted. At the very worst, bitterness, suspicion and jealousy will invade the ministry and cause unnecessary dissension. Sides will be taken.
Ministries don’t work when there are sides.My advice: Look but don’t touch. Don’t lean on the glass. And don’t walk on the grass.
Look but don’t touch.
Hormones raging, you pray for restraint. Sure, you don’t think about her naked. You just creepily lean on her shoulder while you pray. You just softly cup his face while you have a moment to whisper, “I prayed for you last night”. If we’re being honest here, you’re having eye-sex. You know what I mean, your mind is anywhere else but focusing on doing the Lord’s work. Mentally, you’re really settling down in Michigan and raising your own little Sunday-school-loving toddlers or holding hands at the monthly missions potluck with your grandchildren clinging to your knee. But when someone asks you to make sure the hitch of the puppet trailer is locked…
So, create a little physical distance between the two of you. don’t pray together alone. Don’t wake up at 3am to do a private bible study. Don’t hold hands. Once your body is involved, it will want more and more. Frankly, now is not the time. Later, when you don’t have this commitment to keep, you can pursue this relationship properly in a context that will allow you to see more clearly.
Don’t lean on the glass.
When you walk through those lines at sandwich shops, there is a division between the customer and the employee. He is making the sandwich. He is wearing gloved and keeping everything sanitary for the customer after you. When you lean on or over the glass you infringe the space. If I’m standing in line behind you, I will leave. You may think it’s not a big deal (since you’re not giving my sandwich a lap-dance) but, I don’t want to consume your leftover snotty breathiness when I get my Italian sub.
Neither does the person who dates your ministry partner after you. the way you treat this person will set a presidence of expectations for future relationships. To be honest, you could really jack things up for the next one. then, drama, drama, drama, drama. your teammates won’t want to communicate with either of you because they’re afraid that maybe this puppy-love illness will be contagious or your emotionally-drunken state makes you a box of TNT waiting for a little spark to set you off.
Hovering, spying, obsessing, sneaking, doing devotions together, sharing your most intimate thoughts, letting them obsess over you, planning a future together… has a time and a place. That time and a place would be after your commitments are fulfilled. Very few people can juggle all these things while committed to a specific ministry. At the very least, all your super-personal inappropriate “glass-leaning” will just skeeve out everybody else who is trying to serve the lord with you.
Don’t walk on the grass.
Someone has worked very hard to grow that grass in that sandy little patch. In fact there is a complex irrigation system, fertilizer routine and monthly aerating treatment. The same is true of most ministries. Ministries do not exist to glorify you, fufill your spiritual needs or work as your dating service. They are difficult to maintain and require many compliant volunteers with team-oriented attitudes.
If you can’t mentally stay away from that person on your team that seems like they could fulfill all your hopes and dreams… practically and physically don’t go there. don’t tell them how you feel. Don’t treat them different than any other team members. Don’t look for opportunities to break the romantic ice.
You can do this just as well after your commitment is fulfilled.
Have any of you seen this firsthand? What did you learn from the situation?