Step into the Water

It’s been almost a year since I left my local church appointment and moved into my extension ministry appointment. So much has changed and yet, so much has stayed the same.

On most workdays, I get up, shower, dress and yes, put on makeup.   I have coffee, a breakfast bar and then I’m in my “office” (the room beside the kitchen). I spend time in Bible study, prayer, journal writing, and preparing for the day. Around 9:00, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later, my “work” begins. Phone calls, video calls (one of the reasons that I don’t stay in my pajamas all day as thought by some folks), emails, writing, reading and “pondering” fills my day. Before I know it, the day has flown by and it’s time to figure out the dinner menu (the Archer’s home menu or the restaurant’s).

This ministry work is different from serving the local church and yet, it’s the same.   It’s a little more 9-5. I sit at my desk a little longer each day. My schedule is a little more predictable.   The other staff person in my office is Hank – who just lays on the couch beside me most of the day and announces the UPS person, the exterminators, the yard crew, really anyone that walks on the street in front of the house. By now, every person on the other end of the phone or video screen knows my receptionist.

It’s also the same: email, phone calls, unexpected calls, paperwork, budgets, billing, reading, preparation, writing, and most of all, people. People seeking to answer God’s call, people burdened by family concerns, people trying to make ends meet, people celebrating joys in their congregations, people angered or confused by the Church and people empowered by the Church. These people just happen to be clergy.

When I began my work as a ministry coach, I thought I would be working with folks in the ordination process (and I do have a few folks). Programs changed and now most of the folks with whom I work are clergy (and a few laity) who have been serving the local church 5-25 years. They are people with fruitful ministry who desire to follow God’s call towards more fruitful ministry. They seek to be resilient and adaptable in this changing world. They seek to honor Christ in all that they do.

My call? My job? – walk alongside them, encourage, pray for, listen, ask questions, help them open up the possibilities, invite them to see where God is moving in their lives, ask them what they want more of in their lives and in their ministry and pray some more.

A pastor told me recently: “Trish, you have a way of mudding the water, stepping into it with me and helping me clear it before you step out.” Yep! That’s what I do.   I think that’s an affirmation – maybe sometimes not.

As I think about it, isn’t that what we as the Body of Christ are called to do for one another? Help clear the water. Walk alongside folks, encourage, pray, listen.

Some days I feel like someone felt a little less alone in ministry, someone was a little more encouraged after the call, someone saw a possibility that God was waiting to show him or her . . . some days not so much.

No matter who we are or what we do, everyone needs someone to step into the water with him or her. No matter who we are or what we do, all of us are called to step into the water.


“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”             – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Building Moral Margin – Week 3, Day 5


Daily Scripture Reading:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”  

James 5:16 – “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”   

Exercise is always easier with a friend. You know . . . someone to say: “You can do it!” “Work harder, Trish” “I’m with you!”   When I turned the big 5-0, I joined a few friends to run in the Princess 5-K at Disney World. I can promise you that I never would have done this alone. However, with support and accountability, I did it – not quickly – but I did it!

Everyone needs support and accountability when they are seeking to accomplish a goal, stay clean from a substance, or just live from day to day. Accountability partners help us maintain our margins in all areas of our lives, particularly in our moral margins. A confidant can be our strength when we are faced with a tempting situation. Knowing that someone knows our struggles, is available for us, and will support us can help keep us on the right path.

The Christian community can be this accountability for us. Not everyone needs to know our struggles but everyone needs at least one person in his/her life that can be the encourager. Christ calls us to encourage, build up one another and pray for each other. Life is always easier in community!

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the strength of the Christian community. Give me courage to reach out during my struggles and give me compassion for others in the midst of their struggles. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Reflection Question and/or Application for the Day:

Name the person or persons in your life that you call if you are struggling in some way.

If you can think of no one, ask God to show you someone today to be your confidant and accountability partner.

Ask God to show you who might need your listening ear and compassionate heart.


Devotion from Building Margin for a Balanced Life, devotional book, small group study and sermon series

©Tim Reaves and Trish Archer

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