Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?


I’m still doing well to plan my children’s church
before Friday and to show up at the right church on Sunday

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My mom used to say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” I know the
intent of that saying. I just can’t find it in the book of

I’m a creative personality. Some might say I’m right-brained. Gary
Smalley and John Trent say I’m an otter.

Whatever the excuse, I just can’t seem to keep a clean office.
Currently, I have a rollaway game cart, eight puppets, five bags of
260E balloons, 21 cookie jars, 11 leftover staff
presents, puppet team tapes, video tapes, duct tape, masking tape,
scotch tape, and most every flat surface is covered with piles for
upcoming events.

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All of this is layered over seemingly endless magic tricks, object
lessons, and Early American garage sale decorating. (Our church had
a decorator when the offices were remodeled, but she didn’t work
out. I’m not the kind of guy who hangs landscapes 8.35 inches above
the couch cushion. I’m more the
Muppet-Baby-puzzle-glued-to-cardboard-at-kid-eye-level type.)

I once had a Bible college intern get lost in my puppet storage
closet. We found him in time for graduation. He’s a children’s
pastor in Colorado now.

So how can a guy like me get any work done at all? How could God
possibly bless my habitual disorganization?

I’m a project man. I move from project to project and event to
event. As long as someone, my wife or secretary, keeps me apprised
of the week, month, or year and of the next project or event, I do
pretty well.

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Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have a Day-Timer, two computerized
calendar/organizers, a church calendar, a children’s ministries
calendar, a commemorative insurance calendar, a Far Side daily
reminder, and three separate funeral home calendars.

I’m still doing well to plan my children’s church before Friday
and to show up at the right church on Sunday morning.

The word “organized” is not used once in the New International
Version. The word “administration” is used three times. People say
God is really good at administration and organization. I think he’s
just very good at events. I picture his office as somewhat
cluttered. He has strange beasts and angels and books of life and
all. Perhaps I’m just trying to create God in my own image. It’d be
another good excuse for my creative eccentricity.

I do know this: God has helped me every step of the way to be a
credit to his name and this ministry. Paul said, “Do not conform
any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will”-(Romans

Through all of my life and ministry, God has transformed my mind,
bringing my ministry, and yes, even my organizational skills, more
in line with his will. Even though I find myself to be the master
of the disorganized, I strive daily to be more like him who called
me out of darkness and into his wonderful light.

Perhaps you find your creativity interfering with your ministry.
You recognize the description of my office. You sit in the midst of
piles each New Year’s Eve resolving to change big time in the
following year. You’re frustrated continually as you miss
appointments, forget events, or lose letters from friends in the
black hole called your office.

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There’s hope for you and for me. There’s help. First, I listen to
my wife. I go to time-management seminars. I keep praying and
serving him and his children with all of my heart.

I know that you can do the same. God will help you as he has
helped me in this ministry since 1975. Children will follow God,
families will be changed, and lives transformed for eternity
because of your ministry.

Is cleanliness next to godliness? I’ll let you know when I reach
my desk through this new pile of paper.

Dick Gruber is a children’s pastor in Minnesota.

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