Lately I’ve been thinking about how icebergs and ministry are a lot alike (and for you jokers — no, this is not about being frosty-cold or drifting aimlessly). I’m talking about the visibility of icebergs and ministry.
Because the density of ice is different from the density of salt water, only about 1/10 of an iceberg is visible above water. Likewise, only a fraction of what goes into ministry is visible. Just a few of the most obvious examples.
- Hours of research, study, prayer, and sermon writing are unseen while only 25 minutes or so of sermon time is visible.
- Hours of research, study, prayer, and class preparation are unseen while 45 minutes or so of teaching time is visible.
- Extending periods of vision casting and administration are unseen while a 5 minute announcement is visible.
- Weeks of theological reflection are unseen while a brief teaching document is visible.
- Seasons of prayer are unseen while the resulting life changes are visible, but often completely unnoticed.
- Lengthy conversations and counseling sessions are unseen and more often than not, never visible to anyone.
The more I reflect on icebergs and ministry the more I realize that for ministry to be successful, it has to be this way — about 90% invisible. If it is not, I am convinced it will lack the prayer, study, imagination, and theological reflection that is essential for that 10% to be meaningful.