Messy Houses and Hearts

Author: Dean Tzobanakis

As many of you know, I am recently married to a stunning young lady. Before Kelsey and I got married, there was much abrew in her head about what it would be like to live with a boy. And who could blame her? She knew that the standard, in general, was abysmally low for the male living space. Despite my efforts to prove to her that my space was neat and organized whether I knew she was coming over or not, still she worried. Conversely, I was celebrating the prospect of having a roommate of the opposite sex. Ladies tend to be tidier and smell much better than dudes. After six months of marriage, I think I may have finally convinced her that I’m at least in the same conference of cleanliness as she is.

I work with college men. More often than not, they fall more into Division III territory (that means they aren’t exactly earning a scholarship for their cleanliness, for you non-sporty types.) And let’s go ahead and lump in young men in general, because graduating from college doesn’t always seem to remedy the problem. Now, my favorite thing about college ministry is that I can treat my audience like adults. Because they are, whether they act like it or not.

You see, the word “boy” in the opening paragraph is key. One would expect a boy’s room to have toys, clothes and dirty dishes strewn about. It’s simply the manifestation of a lack of maturity (and the law of entropy.) Therefore, it would be fair for Kelsey to worry about the state of her home if she were required to share space with a boy. That’s logical. The problem comes when these “boys” are age 16 and beyond.

The state of your dwelling, believe it or not, is a reflection of your character. In 1 Timothy 3, the Bible says that if a man cannot lead his family well, there’s no way he can be an effective leader in the Church. Likewise, an unkept house or apartment speaks volumes about the overall discipline (or laziness) of the resident. A few things that require discipline: relationship with God and spiritual growth, budget, eating and exercise habits, upkeep of residence, time management and productivity, intentionality in interpersonal relationships, etc.

Discipline in one area flows into others. It’s likewise almost impossible to restrict apathy and sloth to only certain areas of life. The destructiveness of laziness cannot be overstated, and it is proportionately beneficial to be disciplined in everything. Colossians 3:23-4 states:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Put another way, “diligence is excellence over time.” Pursue excellence in all things, and do it consistently.

Finally, as not to neglect the specific impact on BYX men, consider this: The burden that this lack of diligence and consideration places on the brothers around you can breed bitterness and dissension. If trying to maintain a clean home becomes a source of strife among roommates, then that in itself compromises our purpose of brotherhood and unity. Anything that does this, especially something so childish, should be handled swiftly with respectful dialogue and plenty of humility. I encounter this issue at nearly every campus I visit. That indicates that it’s far too common among men who should be striving to sacrificially love one another and pursue excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ.

In the grand scheme of things, domestic tidiness is only a microcosm of a culture that prolongs adolescence and, in so doing, perpetuates a cancerous, childish mentality in men that’s detrimental to ministry and society. But maybe that’s a topic for another devo.

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