March 25, 2011

PINRF: People I'm Not Responsible For

Ecclesiastes 10:19a says, “Bread is made for laughter” and Proverbs 15:3a says, “a glad heart makes a cheerful face,” which leads me to the conclusion that God cares about chortles and chuckles.
At first glance, this seems incompatible—or at least marginal—for a ministry life dedicated to caring for souls. In reality, however, laughter is God’s good gift, and maybe especially sweet to those who wrestle daily with eternal issues.

Laughter can be elusive in ministry. The people for whom I have the deepest love, from whom I draw the greatest spiritual encouragement, and with whom I spend the most time before the Throne are the people in our church. We are committed to a long-term pilgrimage together. These people are wonderful, they have

 brought much joy to our hearts, and they are also work.

At this stage of my life, some of my favorite PINRF are the members of a local adoptive families group. We gather with our children once a month to share our stories, talk about adoption, and eat international food. This is a great stage for smiles.

Here’s why I’m thankful to occasionally break bread with PINRF:
• They welcome you as a fellow mom, employee, volunteer, blogger, baker, or runner. Something (anything!) other than the Person in the Front Pew.
• They don’t take what you say as an official statement. Of course we always seek to speak the truth in love as in Ephesians 4:15, but it’s nice to be exempt from ex cathedra status.
• They don’t expect you to fix anything. Whether they are discussing doctrine or divorce, they see you as a friend.

Although there’s no EHarmony for locating a perfect PINRF match, the Lord graciously places them in the staff lounge, in your child’s class, and in the house next door. Keeping our eyes open for them can be a refreshing way to make room in life for simple laughter.But for bread with laughter, there’s something special about the fellowship of friends I mentally call People I Am Not Responsible For (or PINRF). These are the people outside the bounds of this ministry who can enhance pilgrimage with playfulness. They are a blessing from the Lord, an occasional treat, a cherry on the top.


  1. Are the people in your adoption group all Christians? Could you comment on having non-Christian PINRFs?

  2. What happens if your PINRF begin to come to your church? What happens to that relationship? Does it make you hesitant to invite those people?

  3. Yes, the people in my adoption group are all Christians. Regarding non-Christian PINRFs: I think maybe they are in a different category. Although I have valuable relationships with non-Christians, I find it easier to truly relax with other believers.

  4. I invited my best PINRF to my church when she and her husband were wounded by their own church. They only came one Sunday. In their case, our church's style was the opposite of their own tradition. We both decided that they wouldn't be happy at my church in the long run and they ended up in a different local church in their denomination. If they had stayed, I think our friendship would have changed. In my experience, the best PINRFs are people who are happily involved in another church.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this helpful and encouraging information! I am just starting to pursue relationships outside the bounds of our church as well as resuming old relationships which were put on hold while we planted a church. I am hopeful and joyful about the idea of the refreshment that can come from PINRF's!

  6. At first glance, self-sacrifice does not seem like something bad, but this is only at first glance, if you are still interested in the topic of self-sacrifice, there is a blog about what self sacrifice is, and whether the self-sacrifice scheme is bad


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