As we wind up our four-week blog series on “Lessons Learned from the Laundry Room,” I pray they have been an encouragement to you and have given you things to think about as you navigate this ministry life journey you are on.
Going to a public Laundromat has many lessons for life and ministry. You have a choice upon entering a Laundromat what you will do while your laundry washes and dries. You can people watch, read a book, play on your phone, or even leave the premises and hope that when you return your laundry will be there just where you left it.
If you stay, it is wise to keep your eye on your loads of laundry as you are in a place where others are doing the same activity, their laundry.
Once the laundry is in the washer or dryer it is hard to tell which load is yours unless you take note of the machine that your laundry is in. Why is that important? Because an undiscerning eye can be drawn to your machine and start handling “not their load” or perhaps you become the perpetrator and handle “not my load.”
Besides being embarrassing when the mistake is revealed, it causes angst for the other person as you have crossed into their personal space or perhaps a person has crossed into yours. Laundry is personal space.
How does this relate to ministry life?
When we don’t use discernment, we may cross into another person’s personal life where we have not been invited. Our honest desire to focus on helping others may blur the lines of what is and isn’t our load to take care of. We may embarrass others or perhaps ourselves when it is discovered we are where we do not belong. Just like in the Laundromat, the minutes that follow the discovery can be awkward and confusing.
How to undo what has been done? You can’t “unsee” or “unhear” what you have already seen or heard.
It is best to acknowledge that you have overstepped and gotten involved in “not my load,” apologize and move on.
Why is this important in the Laundromat? A Laundromat is a public space where people are dealing with their personal belongings. You don’t have authority over their personal space.
Why is this important in ministry? A church is a public space where people have a personal life, including us in ministry. It must be respected and protected both for others and for ourselves.
As in a Laundromat, you may choose or another may choose to take advantage of the service for someone to “wash and fold” their load, but that is a personal choice that comes with permission to let another handle their personal belongings. It also comes with responsibility for the other person to handle it well.
So it is in ministry. We may be called on to help “wash and fold” another’s load, but it is with their permission and responsibility to handle it well.
We are told to “love one another” many times in scripture. Loving one another involves respect and discernment over another person’s personal space.
Romans 12:10 (NIV)
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Take note of “your load” and be aware of the “not my load” signs in another person’s life.
Many times in ministry we as pastors’ wives can be guilty of overstepping those boundaries and think we are helping someone when in reality they haven’t asked for our help or given us permission to enter their personal area. Let’s take note of what Patti shared today and be conscious of when it is “our load” and when it is not.