Sometimes in ministry I feel like a fish out of water, like I don’t fit in. Tonight, however, it occurred to me that perhaps I am a fish who is designed for a particular kind of water. Don’t worry, this is not a post lamenting my role in my current church. I love my pastor and my church. As long as God allows me, I intend to remain there. Rather, this is a reflection concerning my experience in relating to leaders in all kinds of churches around the world, especially in the USA. Not just children’s ministry leaders, but senior leaders as well. What a diverse and interesting swath of humanity we are. But I shall return to my point, lest I digress….
In the marine world, some fish are best suited for the ocean as they are created to survive in saltwater environs. Indeed, some do best in cold climates while others fare better in equatorial habitats. Some are designed for the plunging depths of deep ravines, and others survive close to the surface. They are too numerous in kind to name here, and I have only barely touched on the possibilities in their different conceivable marine ecologies. Furthermore, I have not even touched on those freshwater fish which thrive in rivers, streams, ponds and lakes.
So, maybe in those times when I feel like a fish out of water, it is more an issue of evaluating the kind of water for which I am designed to thrive. It seems to me that just as God has designed individuals to have unique characteristics and singular personalities, he also has allowed there to develop many forms of orthodox ecclesial communities which thrive in the context of their immediate cultures. In some of those contexts, I would not be a good fit; in others, it would be a natural connection in the life of Christ.
Just as fish cannot survive without water habitat in some appropriate form, we each cannot rightly thrive in our relationship with God without being a vital part of an appropriate expression of the church.