One of my favourite books is The Hobbit. One of the things that I really appreciate is the development of Bilbo Baggins. If you have never read the book, Bilbo is recruited by a wizard named Gandalf and a group of dwarves to go on a dangerous adventure.
From the moment that the proposal for the mission is presented, there is an internal struggle within Bilbo. Bilbo is a product of two families: the Tooks and the Baggins. The Baggins are known for being respectable and predictable. They enjoy their comfort and their leisure. The Tooks are known for being much more adventurous and impulsive. Hobbits are not normally involved in excitement but if they are, there is usually a Took who is in the middle of it.
Bilbo, as he receives the opportunity to travel with the dwarves, experiences the tug back and forth between these two families. Part of him wants to go and find the dragon and get the gold and part of him wants bacon and eggs by the fireplace. Throughout The Hobbit, the tension between these two sides continues.
I see in that dynamic a picture of what Christian ministry can look like. It could be looked at in the context of a congregation, a pastor or a layperson. How would you describe yourself? Are you a Took or a Baggins? Do you like it when things are just moving smoothly and no one is rocking the boat? Or do you prefer living on the edge, surviving from prayer to prayer?
I will say that in the story that neither the Took or the Baggins way is condemned. In fact by the end, Bilbo literally becomes a hobbit of integrity. By that I mean that he has integrated the Took and Baggins part within himself. He has allowed the two sides to inform one another. It is possible to relax without being lazy. It is possible to be courageous without being reckless.
Do we allow our Took and Baggins side to come together? Do we give ourselves permission to take a chance sometimes and to take it easy other times? What lessons can we learn about Christian ministry from a hobbit?