Today we finish Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle and get to discuss a key chapter in forming and molding me when it comes to ministry.
Here is a hilarious turn of events. What book has lead to the fewest amount of comments? What book might lead me feel like I picked a dud? What book has left me feeling like I am alone?
Wait, please. It is okay. I do not say this to shame anyone or to guilt anyone into commenting. This book club is like everything else we do, isn’t it? There is an element of mystery and unpredictability. In his loving mercy, God will circle back to lessons and help us go deeper in them.
So, how do I measure success and failure when everything is online? What’s the story I tell myself about the work I/we do?
“People want me to tell them success stories. I understand this. They are the stories you want to tell, after all. So why does my scalp tighten whenever I am asked this? Surely, part of it comes from my being utterly convinced I’m a fraud.
“Twenty years of this work has taught me that God has greater comfort with inverting categories than I do. What is success and what is failure? What is good and what is bad? Setback or progress? Great stock these days, especially in nonprofits (and who can blame them), is placed in evidence-based outcomes.
“Are you, in the end, successful? Naturally, I find myself heartened by Mother Teresa’s take: ‘We are not called to be successful, but faithful.’ This distinction is helpful for me as I barricade myself against the daily dread of setback. You need protection from the ebb and flow of three steps forward, five steps backward. You trip over disappointment and recalcitrance every day, and it all becomes a muddle. God intends it to be, I think.” (page 168)
And I love at the end of the chapter when he says, “On most days, if I’m true to myself, I just want to share my life with the poor, regardless of the result.”
The final chapter on kinship and belonging to each other was a perfect way to end. Though the book is over, because of kinship, I still belong to Father Gregory and he still belongs to me. I belong to you and you belong to me. God has woven and is weaving us together.
As I come to the end of this book, these are my takeaways:
1. The vastness of God. I forget and then my view of him shrinks. Vast.
2. The slow work of ministry. I get so impatient. This book has reminded me that speed doesn’t matter that much to God.
3. The concepts of success and failure need to be revisited and redefined in each season. How I need God to keep aligning my definitions to his.
What are your takeaways?
See you in the comments and even if I don’t, I needed this book and I’m glad we read it. Truly. Grace and peace friends, Amy
P.S. Next week we start Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero and will be discussing the introduction and chapter 1.
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