I like structure. I like order and predictability. I am an organized person. My workshop has a place for all my tools, a place where I expect them to be. Now, I am not obsessive about the order and structure–I haven’t drawn the outline of the tool on the wall behind its place on the wall. But I do know where the tool is because I put it there in the first place and return it to its place when I am finished using it. Tools don’t lie around on the work bench partly because I don’t have a lot of workbench space but mostly because I put them away when I am done with them–one of the rituals I have when finishing a session in the workshop is making sure all the tools are back where they belong.
I have friends whose tools tend to get deposited here there and everywhere. When they want a 15/64s drill bit, they have to think about the last project they used the drill bit on and search that work area–or go buy a new one. I might not remember when I last used the 15/64s drill bit but I do know the bit will be in its container where it is supposed to be, unless I broke it the last time I used it, in which case, the replacement is in the proper place in the container.
My books are organized–now, the organizing principles might not be readily understandable to anyone else, but I understand it and can find the book I want when I want it because it is where it is supposed to be. Even my computer and tablet files are structured and organized so that I can find the file I want when I want it–I know the topic of the file and can quickly find the appropriate folder and sub-folder.
So, with that in mind, I approach the church, where as I have already mentioned, there is more chaos than structure; more confusion than order; more questions than answers. About the only thing that is predictable about the church many times is that if a person who attends regularly shows up, they will sit in their particular place. Almost everything else, well, it is probably easier to herd cats than get everyone and everything in its place in the church.
So, I go from the structure of my workshop and study and computer to the chaos of the church. I carefully put my tools away, replace the books in their proper places, save the files in their proper sub-folders, put everything I will need in the proper brief case, check the phone calendar to make sure I am on time and going to the right place and step into the chaos of the church.
On some levels, my structured personality should find the church difficult and frustrating–but the truth is, I don’t find it that way. Certainly, I can and do get frustrated with some church stuff. I occasionally get frustrated with some church people. But on the whole, I enjoy the church and its chaos. My love of structure doesn’t mean that I approach the church with fear and trembling.
And as I have thought about that, I realized that my appreciation for structure isn’t one of the driving forces of my life. What is a driving force is the gift that the Holy Spirit exercises through me, the gift of helping bring structure and sense to what appears to be chaotic. I don’t have an obsessive need for structure–rather, I have a Spirit given gift of being able to make sense out of chaos for myself and others. Having structure isn’t the goal of my life either in the workshop or the church.
Helping create an appropriate and workable structure out of what seems chaotic is one of the goals of my life. And it is a goal not because I need the structure but because God has been and continues using me to help congregations see their underlying structure and order that their chaos both hides and reveals. This is important because as the divine structure and order become visible to the church, they can become much more effective and comfortable with their place in God’s work and his kingdom.
May the peace of God be with you.