The phrase “sitting in the stairwell” from Marko’s Youth Ministry 3.0 has sat with me for some time now. It is a challenge to find those places in which we can sit, ready to serve. Looking for those places has led me to think of those people that have ‘sat in the stairwell’ on my behalf, those people that have chosen to place themselves in a place of service, those who have given me time and space, those that have been as a friend.
A few years back, I left a job that was special. It was one that had its challenges but the momentum was all forward and there were many positive results. There was the usual politics, but that goes for any role we have, and things were looking good for the future, despite various challenges on the table. However, during a long season where the politics, hurdles and personal things came together in an unnatural way, I chose to leave. My spiritual life was crumbling as the circumstances battered the fragile shell of mine – there was no alternative. No-one questioned my decision (to my face anyway) and I believed that there would be people to help me re-form my spiritual life as these were my friends. Unfortunately, it was not that easy and those I relied upon became too busy.
I entered a wilderness, yet one man whose path crossed my own chose to ‘sit in my stairwell’. In the 18 months that followed he spoke few words, he spent little time with me, but he provided me with everything I needed. He welcomed me into his tribe, he engaged my family, let me know he was there, encouraged involvement at my own pace and demonstrated that he understood my struggles. During this time, spiritual life returned and balance of life returned. I owe him a great debt as he was willing to sit in a place that my friends did not – that type of thing cannot be bought.
My friend has since moved on to new pastures but our paths crossed again the other week. It was a privilege to share with him in ministry and over lunch had an opportunity to thank him for sitting in my stairwell.
My friend has mentored me – albeit in an unusual way – and now I am looking for the opportunities to do the same for others.