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Celebrating the Ordinary

By Christina M. H. Powell

Christina M.H. Powell, Ph.D., author of Questioning Your Doubts: A Harvard PhD Explores Challenges to Faith, is an ordained minister, medical writer, and research scientist trained at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University. She speaks in churches, at conferences, and on campuses nationwide and addresses challenging questions about faith and life at http://www.questioningyourdoubts.com.

When you think of celebrations what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of the moments that mark milestones such as birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Maybe you think of major holidays on the calendar such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. Possibly you think of events that launch a new ministry, recognize volunteers, or highlight achievements. These types of celebrations encourage us to reach for goals, note the passage of time, and strive for excellence. These celebrations are essential, but ministry is full of opportunities for additional celebrations that may be quieter but are no less important.

Celebrating Reflection

If God has blessed you with co-laborers who help you do more than you could do alone, take time to celebrate this blessing.

In the stillness of the morning hours before responsibilities propel the day forward, time spent with an open Bible, a cup of tea or coffee, and a heart prepared for worship celebrates the importance of preparation and reflection in ministry. Wrapped in a warm sweater sitting on a weathered bench under gray autumn skies, I acknowledge my need for God's strength and guidance in the ministry scheduled for the day. The people I will meet need more than human wisdom can provide. By taking time to pray for their needs ahead of time, I commit to giving them more than I can offer alone. I value each person as an individual with unique concerns understood by the Holy Spirit, who desires to see the person restored to wholeness.

By reflecting on biblical truths before starting my day, I anchor my activities and align them with my core values. I remember how even mundane tasks connect with a greater purpose. I honor the principle of thinking before acting. Some days the time I spend reading provides the perfect pause between sleep and activities that helps me start the day with peace and perspective. On other days, the wisdom I glean from God's Word changes the course of my day. When I begin each day with reflection, I make room for my devotions to impact my ministry in ways both great and small.

Celebrating Relationships

While there are official times in the church calendar to celebrate relationships, such as receiving new members or holding a banquet for ministry staff, you can find moments to celebrate relationships on ordinary days as well. Consider the people whom you almost take for granted because they are the dependable rocks that anticipate the next steps in a project and get the job done with little direction. How about the people who willingly serve as sounding boards for your ideas, helping you sort the brilliant ones from those not worth implementing? These people deserve a little unexpected party in the form of a compliment in the hallway, a kind email, or a phone call to thank them for the latest way they contributed to the overall success of the ministry.

In the predictability of these ordinary tasks, I can find moments for celebration.

Friends and mentors who know your history provide grounding in your life and help you see the trends and patterns that mark how God is developing your potential as a leader. Some colleagues simply understand how you think. You can solve problems quickly with these people, and they know how to support you when momentum moves ministry forward at a demanding pace. In the scientific community, scientists with similar interests form productive collaborations. Two or more laboratories working together can produce discoveries faster and more accurately than a single lab conducting research alone. These kinds of working relationships exist in the ministry world as well. If God has blessed you with co-laborers who help you do more than you could do alone, take time to celebrate this blessing.

Celebrating Routine

When I hear the word "celebration", I think of a break from the typical day - an event that stands out from my usual schedule. However, the key to reaching goals is consistency. Athletes and scholars gain competency through repetition. In the same manner, ministers increase their effectiveness by establishing useful routines in their days. By setting aside time for study each week, a preacher enters the pulpit prepared on Sunday. By handling administrative tasks at a set time, the desk stays clean and the files remain organized. In the predictability of these ordinary tasks, I can find moments for celebration.

These preordained hours in my day celebrate the importance I place on doing my job well. They link my dreams to finished accomplishments. They provide the backbone to the public aspects of ministry. When going through my routine on an ordinary day, I do not experience drudgery. Instead, you will find me smiling as I anticipate the joy of impacting lives through doing little things well.