Glitz and Glam

This is about as glitzy as it gets at 707 W. Jones St.
This is about as glitzy as it gets at 707 W. Jones St.

A couple of days ago, Terry Smith posted the following on Facebook

“Sometimes “ministry” looks like sitting in an auto parts store parking lot changing out an alternator. It’s not all glitz and glam, folks.

This is a truth I can attest to after just a few months hanging around Love Wins. It’s not exactly a surprising one, however. I spent 23 years on the street as a firefighter and what is surprising are the similarities between the two vocations. Both deal with folks in varied economic situations and, quite often, those people were/are in some kind of crisis. The biggest difference between the two is that, as a firefighter, the crises were usually physical were physical in nature (fires, injuries, etc). Things at Love Wins are a bit more diverse. But, both callings are remarkably short on glitz and glamour.

As a firefighter, most of my time was spent completing incredibly mundane tasks, like scrubbing toilets, mopping floors, maintaining equipment and washing fire trucks. But, humdrum as they might sound, those tasks were essential to our ability to do the flashy, important stuff. And, that “flashy, important stuff” actually made up a pretty small percentage of each shift. In the same way, the things I do at Love Wins can seem small and insignificant in the big picture. Moving donations we don’t have room for in the office to other storage spaces, taking things we can’t use to places that can use them, going to the store to pick up trash bags, coffee or the other incidentals that make things run smoother (notice I didn’t say smooth) are a lot like mopping floors and cleaning toilets at the fire station: boring and hardly seem worth mentioning. Until they don’t get done. Then, everything comes to a grinding halt.

The closest I ever got to glitz and glamour in all those years with the fire department were some of the calls I went on. If you can call dodging blood, vomit and other, more disgusting bodily fluids or crawling around in a dangerous, toxic environment wearing 75 lbs of protective equipment glitz and glamour, that is. It certainly doesn’t sound like it, huh? The truth is, it felt good to know that you’d done something to help someone on what had to be one the worst days of their life. I get that same feeling spending time with my friends at Love Wins, plus I don’t have to deal with blood and vomit…, most of the time.

If anything, ministry (at least the ministry I’m involved in) has even less glitz and glamour than the fire department. When I was a firefighter, there was at least a possibility of seeing myself on the local news; not much at 707 W. Jones. But, in reality, glitz and glamour are shitty reasons to do anything; a fact that’s doubly true of something as hard and demanding as “a ministry of presence“. So, why do it?

I do it for a couple of reasons, but the one I’ll tell you about here is related to my faith. I believe the key to this Christian thing lies in the commandment to love God with all my heart, all my mind and all my strength. I can’t think of a better way of doing that than by loving my neighbor. All my neighbors, not just the ones like me.