The Cleaning Ladies
Ephesians 4:29 – “… but only speak words that are good for edification, according to the need of the moment, so that it will minister grace to those who hear.” (NASB)
As we minister to women in our churches, we respond in various ways and we have various types of women we meet and interact with in ministry. The caricatures below describe some women we might encounter, or descriptions of how we, ourselves, might act!
First, there is the Bristle Brush lady. She is the woman who comes into church and always looks angry or annoyed. You reach out to her and she quips some short answer that shuts you down and you realize there is no more conversation going to happen at that time. Still you reach out and occasionally you get a smile.
Then, there is the Quicker Picker UpperTM lady. She is the one who greets you at the door on her way to take care of some pressing need, and says something like, “Hi! It’s been so long since I saw you! How ya’ doin’- How ya’ doin’? Are you doing ok?” If you managed to get an answer out and venture to say, “I’m okay…struggling a little with…” She immediately jumps in with a, “Oh, I will pray for you! Just give it all to Jesus! He will be there for you! Jesus will help you!” And quickly continue on her way to her “pressing need.”
Next, there is the Disinfecting Wipes woman. She goes about helping clean up the problems of people’s lives. There is always a crisis for her to help wipe away. There is always time for someone else, but never time to care for herself. When one crisis is wiped clean, another one arises and needs cared for. She doesn’t develop deep relationships, but frequently wipes the surface of one in a caring manner.
Also, there is the Air Freshener woman. She reaches out so kindly to people. There’s always a kind, sweet air about her. She is viewed as the “sweet lady” in church. But you never get past the surface air with her. The deep troubles of her life never surface to be cleaned, and her eyes show an inner sadness that longs to be real and transparent.
Also, there is the Scrubbing BubblesTM lady. She is always hard at work in the church, offering to clean up, pick up, or put away whatever needs to be done. She is a worker bee, and you can count on her to take care of business and get things back in order the way they are supposed to be. However, to really have a sit down, heart-to-heart talk with her is difficult. She is so busy helping that she does not open up to ministering to people or allow herself to be ministered to.
Lastly, there is the Soft ScrubTM lady. She is kind in response and demeanor. She is the lady that is interested in you. She asks about your life and how things are going. She takes time to listen. And when you’re done sharing, her soft response in one or two phrases brings you right where God needs you to be. She scrubs your heart clean in one fell-swoop and brings your perspective where it needs to be biblically. And you love her for it! These women are few and far between, but they are gems when you find them.
The women we encounter in these descriptions are stereotypical women, but nevertheless, real women who often exhibit these characteristics. As I thought about these, I was challenged to look at myself to see which one of these “cleaning ladies” I was portraying? Which woman are you? Where do you find yourself in your interactions in ministry? Are we the I Peter 3 woman, who portrays a gentle and quiet spirit? Are we the Proverbs 31 woman who portrays a life with God in control? What kind of women are we?
©Joanna Shumaker 2013
*”Scrubbing Bubbles is a registered trademark of the S.C. Johnson Company
*”Soft Scrub” is a registered trademark of the Dial Corporation
*”Quicker Picker Upper” is a registered trademark of the Proctor & Gamble Corporation