Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Intellectual Vitality for the Long Haul!

Reading time: two minutes. Do you open packages right as they arrive?  Some people wait.  They set the latest Amazon arrive aside for later or even forget about it.  I’m much more curious than that.  I rip ’em right open. Intellectual vitality is like opening packages and finding surprises.  Open a book, find a surprise.  Open a conversation, find a surprise.  Last week we talked about how long-term healthy relationships lead to long-term ministry.  Curiosity in relationships keeps the fun, the surprises and the joyful energy flowing.  And that’s good for everybody. Ephesians 4 gives guidance for curiosity in relationships, for keeping communication alive and relationships strong.  Paul writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (v. 29).  There’s a lot going on here. It starts with watching your words.  Wholesome is good.  Wholesome is helpful.  Good words build up.  But I especially like Paul’s emphasis on what is beneficial to those who hear our words. That’s the surprise.  There’s wisdom inside everyone that the Lord places into our lives.  When curiosity and communication crumble, we miss out on the benefit, the wisdom we’d gain by just listening.  I often wonder how so many conflicts and misunderstandings in congregational life could be avoided by more curiosity, by carefully measuring the helpfulness of our words, and by listening with open ears and hearts. That doesn’t mean that everything someone has to say is something I necessarily want to hear.  I’m expect you’re familiar with numerous instances of a breakdown in the love, trust and respect between pastor and congregation that led to an early departure from a call, or even from the ministry entirely.  A few careful (wholesome) words spoken in love, with the benefit of others in mind, might have gone a long way to saving a ministry or a ministry relationship. Who has something to say that I need to hear?  Am I curious enough to seek out their wisdom, even if it might hurt a little bit at first? Who needs to hear something that I have to say?  How could I measure my words so that they were received in love, so that my friend might fully benefit from them? I’m praying that the Spirit of the Lord will enter in and dominate all of our conversations, for the benefit of all of us and for the long haul in fruitful ministry. Thanks for reading. Subscribe to Blog A Congregational Wellness Weekend is designed to help create a ministry environment at your church or school where professional church workers can thrive and serve joyfully in their calling at top capacity. Let’s start the conversation today! Find more information on our website or contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman to learn more.