Do you ever wonder where your meeting agendas come from? Or who disposes of the trash in your waste can? Who changes the lightbulbs or folds the sharp-looking brochure? We tend of think of ministry as happening in the open, by folks we can identify and point to. But what about all the work that happens behind the curtain?
When I was in college, I spent many late nights in the newspaper office. At least once a week, I was in the office alone putting together the online edition of the paper. During those long nights, I’d often be visited by the security guard as he made his evening rounds. Larry wanted to make sure all was as it should be. I began to look forward to these visits and the conversations I’d have with Larry. Turns out, as he walked the campus, turning off lights and locking doors, he would pray for those who would be using the space the next day. Since he worked the late night shift, he didn’t get to know many students, but he thought about them and cared deeply for them. Securing classrooms and education buildings and science labs provided him an opportunity to do ministry.
My senior year of college, I received a phone call at the newspaper office, letting the publication know that Larry had a heart attack and died. I was the only one in the office who had any idea who he was. Most students felt bad that the school had faced a loss, but were unfazed by the passing of a man they didn’t know. A man who thought about them daily as he went about his work.
Perhaps it is because I spent yesterday putting together packets for a meeting I will not attend, but I’ve been thinking about the ministry behind-the-scenes. Emptying trash does not have to be a spiritual experience, but it can be. Larry was a minister. Those who knew him remembered him for that. He didn’t need a job title or seminary degree to make it so. He just needed to care.
Who are the covert ministers in your life? The folks who remain in the shadows, but add to who you are?