So, for Christmas, my wife splurged and got me a brand new banjo (kudo’s to her). I’ve been talking for a few years about how I wanted to learn to play, but never got around to buying one. My wife’s reasoning was that I needed a hobby. She knits, but I don’t have a hobby (I don’t work out enough to call it a hobby).

I’ve enjoyed tackling the instrument and love the challenge of getting my clumsy fingers to obey my mind. In the process of learning the banjo I have seen insights for my ministry.

1. The unknown is good. The banjo is completely foreign to me and I like it. It’s forcing me to get creative and think from a different part of my brain. In ministry, I can easily get set in my ways and forms. Sometimes I need to get out of my routine and see my world from a different perspective.

2. Practice is good. In order to get good at the banjo, I need to put effort and time into practicing. I’m ashamed that sometimes I fall into the habit of winging it in ministry. After over a decade in student ministry somethings become second nature and I can become sloppy. I need the reminder to look at how I am preparing for ministry (contact work, talks, events…) and make the effort to get better.

3. Creativity is good. I find that my emotions are coming alive when I’ve learned a new picking pattern (yup, I’m lame I know). Ministry is also an area where my creativity can shine and bring life. A former ministry partner used to tell me that he wasn’t creative because he couldn’t write, paint, or sing. I told him that any time we take a risk and try to do something a different way, then we are creative. God is author of creativity. When we express our inner risk taking creativity, we tap into our identity as His image bearers.

So, what about you? How are you challenging yourself to learn or try something new? What are you waiting for? Get plucking.

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