What Jiu Jitsu teaches me about Church, Part 1

I’ve been interested in Jiu Jitsu for about 5 years now. Taking a martial art is not native to me. I’m not very big, strong, or aggressive. I didn’t wrestle in high school or have even thought about needing to try to defend myself. However, there is something about the sport that is intriguing to me.

I found a great place to begin taking classes about a month ago. It fits my busy schedule relatively well, offering a day class (lunch hour) for 2nd shift workers. The guys have been great and I’m learning a ton (along with practicing the ways humiliation helps to shape one’s character).

There have been several things that Jiu Jitsu has taught me about pastoral ministry. I thought that I’d write about these a bit. Besides, a leader within our congregation, Sally, has reminded me that I haven’t blogged in a while.


The first thing that Jiu Jitsu has taught me is the importance of “faceting” our lives. In one of my D.Min courses, our professor shared with us the importance of faceting our lives. When many “facets” are applied to diamonds, it allows its brilliance to be more apparent. As we facet our own lives, our brilliance can be freed, as well.

Pastors are in danger of being one-dimensional props in people’s lives. They are tempted to not have a life and personality of their own. Congregation members are tempted to make the pastor into the image of the congregation itself.

Pastors are people and a healthy pastor will do well to engage in other hobbies, interests, and activities that do not necessarily have to do with their professional lives.

I’ll admit, it has been fun to take Jiu Jitsu lessons as a pastor. My coach once posted on his Facebook account (with sarcasm), “My job is awesome. I get to hurt a minister today… and he is paying me to do it.” Learning Jiu Jitsu is leveraging parts of my brain that go unused in ministry contexts. It’s allowing me to be open and curious with something that is new and fresh.

Some of the most interesting people I know are good at faceting. My brothers are particularly good at this. At one time my brother Matt was teaching English, riding a motorcycle, working on his black belt in American Karate, hunting birds, getting a Chinese character tattoo on his wrist, all-the-while naming one of his cats “Kiki.”

If one were to have a conversation with my brother Steve, he/she would explore the topics of Poker, Game Theory, Property Investment, Advanced Math, Physics, and key match ups in the upcoming weekend of College Football games. I know that I leave those conversations saying, “I never thought of that… that is interesting.”

The Christian life is a calling to see all of life as belonging to God. I’m learning that Christians should be the most curious bunch around.


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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