When I was a young pastor, I had a private conversation with a mentor of mine who was a noted apostolic leader. He had a large church with far-reaching influence. In the youth of my ministry, I placed this man on a deserved pedestal of honor. When he passed away, the newspaper in his city described the 5,000 people in attendance at his memorial service as an event resembling the passing of a head of state.
In the conversation I mentioned, we talked about life and ministry. It was in-depth and informative – something I needed. I listened intently and took mental notes. Then he said something I will never forget. He said, “A lot of ministry is simply bull…t.” You can fill in the three missing letters. I left them out for those who might be sensitive to such language.
That conversation took place 40 years ago. To be honest, I was taken back by what my mentor said, but his honesty was more refreshing than it was offensive. The word that sets off BS meters is defined in dictionaries as something that is nonsense or foolishness. My mentor went on to explain what he meant by that stark sentence, giving me a raw and insightful look into the realities of pastoral ministry.
My pastor was right. I could see my meter register a reaction when discerning the lives of other leaders. Then one day, it went off regarding my ministry. A BS meter does not care who we are or what position we hold. BS is BS. If we are not careful, we can succumb to things that don’t matter, foolish and nonsensical things, spending our precious time and energy on stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run. Jesus had such a meter when He had to deal with some of His disciples, especially Peter.
When our model of ministry or the way we think about God’s Kingdom undergoes a dramatic shift, like what is taking place during the Coronavirus, some of what we brought with us into this unusual season will have to be left behind. It needs to be left behind because others will see it as nothing more than religious nonsense and foolishness. In the end, BS of any kind compromises our message.
The life of Jesus was uncluttered and free from the things that set meters off. A return to the raw beauty, simplicity, and straightforward nature of His ministry is what I hope we can engage once we all come back together.