Posted tagged ‘ministry’

Adult Bullies in Churches

February 18, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     February 17, 2014

 

                                  

 

    We shouldn’t expect it to be different from how it has been. The church has always had bullies. John wrote about one in his third letter. His name was “Diotrephes.” (3 John 1:9-10) He had a reputation for gossiping maliciously, being inhospitable, and keeping others from being hospitable. Diotrephes didn’t invent bullying. He just excelled at being one.

The Sadducees were bullies. They were also “sad, you see!” Sorry, reverted to my Southern Baptist childhood Sunday School class there for a moment!

In this age when there is a growing emphasis on “anti-bullying” in our schools, at our workplaces, on our sports teams, and in our neighborhoods, we must realize that churches have the worst kind of bullies. They are the worst because they clothe the bullying in spiritual language and act like Jesus has ordained their actions.

Churches are also the worst place for bullies because we believe strongly about grace and forgiveness. We’re suppose to love our brother…even the ones who will use that to intimidate us. As one person said many years ago: “Churches put up with people that no one else will.”

Adult bullies in church come in all legal ages. They are not gender-specific, or based on a certain level of income. They come in all shapes and sizes, some with frowns, but others with smiles that fool.

How do adult bullies in church do what they do? One vehicle that is used is making people think it’s all about the person instead of the mission of the church. Bullies think they are irreplaceable, that the church’s one foundation…is them! Part of their intimidation, strange as it sounds, is getting people to buy into that idea. When that happens other members of the church start saying things like, “We can’t afford to lose them. They give so much money!”

     Money is a power play for much of our culture, but it should never hold that kind of sway in the church. Money is a way of showing gratitude, not getting people to follow what I want to do.

Adult bullies in churches use fear to keep themselves in power. Fear fosters spiritual immobility.

Other bullies in the church use their special talents to hold people hostage. “If she leaves who will teach the elementary age Sunday School class.”  

     “There’s nobody else to play the organ. Give him what he wants.”

     Talents become a trump card, not a way of performing an act of service.

So what does the church do when adult bullies throw their weight around? Love them, but hold the door open for them also. The church is bigger than any one person. The mission is more important than any one threatening individual.  The agenda of the Kingdom of God is more urgent than the preference of any “self-proclaimed king.”

There are times in any church’s life where it is essential for someone to step up and give words of conviction or exhortation. That’s not bullying, that’s motivating. there are times when a church needs someone to lead the charge. That’s not bullying, that’s spearheading a charge.

It is easy to forget that Paul compared the church to a “body”, where every person is a part, and every person is important. God’s plan is for a smoothly functioning Body of Christ. The reality is we often fall short. The reality is that there are periods where the Body is functioning smoothly, that there is a rhythm…and then long gaps of dysfunction.

May the Lord help us!

Waiting For A Word

January 23, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   January 22, 2014

 

     I wrote a couple of days ago about Tom Randall’s being held in a Philippino jail. Evidently, this is not a cell like the one Marshall Dillon watched over in Gunsmoke. This is a cell with about 40 men in it, all of them…waiting.

Waiting is an active part of our lives. Waiting in traffic, waiting in the dentist office, waiting for a parent-teacher conference, waiting in an airport terminal, waiting for an answer. Waiting halts us and frustrates us, because we don’t know when the next step will occur…or what the next decision will be.

For those of us here in the U.S. we’re waiting for a word as we go about our routines and conquer our “To Do” list. For Tom and Karen, and their friends Toto and Jake, the waiting is taking on another form. How do you wait in a cell with forty other guys?

You pray, try to remember moments from your past, battle through discouragement and delays. What I’m praying for is that Tom and Karen would be encouraged, stay encouraged, and hope would be a flame that grows brighter within them.

From reports I’m seeing on the “Free Tom Randall” Facebook page, he’s battling an illness that is weakening his physical condition. The danger sometimes in waiting is that things digress. For Tom that’s physically, for others it’s is emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. For many it is the slipping away of all four areas.

If prayer is all we can do on this side of the ocean let us do it with perseverance and power. Although it’s hard to believe, I believe that God, first of all, hears our prayers and, secondly, knows when the optimal time is for them to be answered. Waiting is part of the road leading to the resolution.

And it’s hard!

In Karen’s post today she said a group of pastors had come to the jail and prayed with the men. They were a huge encouragement.

We don’t see all the pieces until we get to the opening for that last piece to fit into and then it makes sense, or as much sense as it can to us. Perhaps a group of pastors from that area coming and praying with Tom is a seed of growth that will happen. Perhaps almost 25,000 Facebook likes is a beginning of a movement about helping not just Tom, but the people he has served and loved.

We must wait, but I pray that our waiting will not be without a celebration moment at the end.

Free Tom Randall!

A Guy Named Tom

January 21, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  January 20, 2014

 

                                     

 

I went to college with a guy named Tom Randall. He had grown up in Detroit, gone to Redford High School, and had a tough outer core about him. We ran cross country and played basketball together at Judson College. Tom was one of the most popular students on our small campus. Being 6’5” made him stand out in the crowd, but he was also an amazing athlete, a stand-out basketball player.

This past week he was arrested, along with two other men, in the Philippines and charged with sex trafficking. Our tendency these days is to hear that someone has been charged with a crime and decide he is guilty as charged. Sex trafficking is a horrendous crime that is rampant across the world. To be charged with it immediately gives most readers a picture of the person as cruel and heartless.

Since I’ve known Tom since 1974, and I’ve seen his journey, I am firm in my belief that he is innocent. The evidence of his life is my convincing of his innocence.

Let me tell you a little bit about him. He became a follower of Jesus in the spring semester of his senior year of college. I would say his decision to be a Christ-follower was the result of the influence of a multitude of people upon his life…guys who played on the basketball team, professors, college administrators, coaches, and his wife-to-be, Karen. Shortly after Tom became a believer he began working in a factory in Elgin, Illinois, making a little bit of income as he faced graduation. He would go into the Director of Admissions, Press Webster (a memorable first name for us all), and talk to Press, and then he would look at all the Bibles that were on one of the bookcases in Press’s office.

“Press, what are you doing with all of those Bibles?”

      “Well, Tom, they are just there.”

      “I’ve got guys down at the factory who don’t have Bibles. They could put those to use.”

      “Well…okay Tom, take a couple of them.”

So Tom would take a couple…and then a couple more..and then a couple more. A little while later Press, who often had to travel for the college, came back to his office to discover his shelves of Bibles were empty.

“Tom, did you take all of my Bibles?”

     “Yes, Press! Do you have any more? I gave them out to the guys that work at the factory.”

     “Did you have to take all of them?”

      “Press, they weren’t doing anybody any good just sitting on your shelf!”

     That what the beginning of his ministry. Soon after college he went to the Philippines where he played professional basketball for a while, and then was involved in a sports ministry where he would travel around in the country, play basketball, and share the gospel. He began a ministry in the Philippines in 1979.

Because of health issues he and Karen had to come back to United States about fifteen years ago and Tom became the Chaplain of the PGA Champions Tour. He would do Sunday chapels, Bible studies, and be available for counseling for any of the senior golfers.

The last fifteen years or so he and Karen have traveled back to the Philippines for a couple of months each year. Their practice is to be their for the month of December. Tom has also taken a basketball team on a tour for a week each year, playing games in different locations, and then sharing the gospel. Their ministry, World Harvest Ministries, continues in the Philippines.

Now, after a lifetime of work and ministry, he’s being held in a jail. Karen has shared that he has been able to give Bibles to several of the other cellmates that are in the crowded room with him. So, in essence, he keeps being a proclaimer as a prisoner.

I don’t know how this will turn out. He has a hearing on Wednesday, January 22. He has a legal team that is representing him. For now we are praying and waiting. I hope you will also.

The evidence of his life is my convincing of his innocence.

     I encourage you to check out one or more of these social media information sites about Tom and Karen’s situation and their ministry.

Facebook pages:  “Free Tom Randall”

“World Harvest Ministries”

web site: “tomrandall.org”

Shoes for Joey

December 10, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         December 10, 2013

                                          

(The following story is based on something that actually happened to me today. The names suggested, however, are fictitious.)

Mrs. Brown, the school social worker, had a problem. Actually, it seemed like every new day brought a compounding of problems, but today she knew that her problem had two feet and one and a half shoes.

Joey, a fourth grader, had been a little suspect with his school attendance recently. His mom would call in the morning about every other day to say that Joey was ill and wouldn’t be at school that day. The afflictions ranged from a cold to a headache to him running a fever. Over the past month Joey had been to school ten days out of a possible twenty-two.

But today he was there, and Mrs. Brown was starting to piece together some things. Joey had been absent on days when it was cold and snowing, and recently there had been a number of those kind of days. Today the sun had come out to raise the temperature to the upper thirties…a heat wave compared to what they ahd been experiencing.

Joey was at school today, and today Joey’s challenge became clear. Joey needed shoes!

Mrs. Brown got on the phone and called Pastor Mike at the community church down the street, and she told him of her problem.

“I know this is a lot to ask, Pastor, but do you think your church could help? Believe me! Joey’s toes are sticking out of the front of his shoe.”

“I’ll be there in an hour. What size does he wear?”

“Six.”

“Consider it done!”

“Thank you! You don’t know how much this means.”

“Mrs. Brown, whenever there is a need that we can help with put us on speed dial. We consider ourselves to be partners with you in the raising up, caring, and safety of the children of our community.”

“And we need all the help we can get.”

She hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. Joey came from a broken home. He split his time between his mom and his dad. Mrs. Brown was more than a little concerned about him. Sometimes kids come to school wondering if life is going to get any better. It broke her heart especially at this time of the year. So many of the students she dealt with saw Christmas as a depressing time, not a time of joy.

An hour later Pastor Mike got buzzed in through the front door and entered the office with a shoe box in hand.

“I hope these fit.”

“We will soon find out. I’ll have Joey come down to the office to try them on.”

A few minutes later a skinny young boy with a nervous look on his face came into the office. Pastor Mike stood to the side, but noticed that the front of one of Joey’s shoes was held together with duct tape that had been wrapped around and around the shoe like first aid tape trying to bring healing that was beyond it. The tape was fraying and splintering on the sides, and the other shoe looked like it was about to lose the tip. Both shoes were rubbed raw of any tread on the soles.

“Joey, I want you to try these shoes on,” said Mrs. Brown.

Joey had a confused look on his face.

“Go ahead! Just try this one on.”

“But Mrs. Brown, I don’t know if my mom would say I could.”

“I’ll talk to your mom. You let me worry about that part.”

“He slipped his old shoe off and worked his foot slowly into the new shoe with bright shoelaces. A smile rose to the surface.

“Now, I want you to give me your old pair and I’ll take care of them.”

“You don’t think my mom will be mad?”

“Joey, I’ll talk to your mom.”

The young boy thanked the lady and left the office beaming.

“A new pair of shoes,” he thought. “I don’t remember the last time I had a new pair of shoes.”

Mrs. Brown watched him stroll out of the office with a little skip in his step. She looked at Pastor Mike, and with tears streaming down her face she asked, “Did you see the look on his face? I haven’t seen him smile a single time this whole year until today.”

“Think about it, Mrs. Brown. Up until just now every time he looked down at his shoes he was reminded of his poverty. Now he can look at his shoes and be reminded that there’s hope.”

To The Newly Ordained

August 19, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         August 19, 2013

     My son! I hope you don’t mind that I call you that, even though we aren’t blood relatives. But I feel, in many ways, you are my son. Lord knows I’m old enough to be your dad!

I thank God for your obedience to the call. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for you. I can remember there were a number of times in the past three years where you were discouraged, tired, ready to lay things aside for a while. Going to seminary full-time, being a father and a husband, being involved in various ministry initiatives at church…your plate runneth over!

And now your name is preceded with the title “Reverend.”

I know it doesn’t change who you are. Humbleness is a part of your DNA. If someone refers to you as “Reverend” you will probably look behind you to see who they are talking to. The titled doesn’t change you. You are who God has transformed you into. That happened a long time before you got an official title.

See the title as simply a confirmation of those who have journeyed alongside you these past years that you are called…you have a special calling that has been placed upon your life.

Sometimes the calling will weigh heavily upon you. As you stand at a pulpit you will see the faces of people who need a word of hope for their lives, a word of encouragement. And yet, there will be other times when you stand at a pulpit there needs to be a “hard word” said. You must always seek to led by the Spirit of God. the temptation to throttle a congregation will be strong some weeks, as well as the tempting to be soft. Seek to lead the people of God closer to a holy fellowship with God. Don’t get carried away by personal agenda and political referendums. Stay Word-focused!

My son, as you enter a hospital room, or meet with someone who is about to enter into surgery, or gather with a family of a deceased loved one, understand that you are a representative of Christ. In fact, you are more than that. To those who are grieving you are the presence of Jesus. Without making you think that you are a Savior, you are in those moments Jesus to them. They are looking to you for a “word from the Lord”, a prayer for healing, comfort in the most trying times.

I know in your eyes you are “small” (Your word!), but to the family of a person who is about to have open-heart surgery you are a rock. Rocks are seen as being planted, strong…something that can have tough things, like the hard questions of life, brought to and there on’t be a shying away.

Be steady! People are sometimes fickle. They get attracted to the latest and greatest, but when the road gets rough, when the weariness of life leaves them gasping,  they look for that pastor who is steady and a servant. Seek to move the people of God ahead. The faster you expect them to move the gentler you must be.

People will follow the leader, even with some grumbling, if they are sure that the leader loves them and desires the best for them.

My son, always be teachable, no matter your age! Seek wise mentors who are not only close at hand, but also far away. And, hear this…seek mentors who are teachable. If you accept the guidance from someone who no longer seeks the wisdom of others, two people are about to take a plunge.

Finally, your family comes before the people of God. There have been many great pastors who have lost their families. That, my friend, is not God’s design for this whole calling of being a pastor. You must be wise in your spirit. Sometimes the people of God can overwhelm you with demands and responsibilities at the expense of your role as a father and spouse. Keep a balance. Discern what is really crucial and what can wait. Your daughter’s school production is more important than a meeting of the Finance Committee. Protect your family time while letting the people of God know you care.

There are so many other things I could write to you, but some of them are best learned on your own. Always know that I’m praying for you, and will be there for you no matter if you’re on a peak or trudging through a valley.

You are called! Fight the good fight!

Trading Pulpits

January 24, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                           January 24, 2013

 

Last Sunday was the seventh year in a row that the pastors of the five neighborhood churches in our area traded pulpits. A Mennonite can become a Lutheran, a Presbyterian can experience being a Baptist, and a Methodist can be anyone of the aforementioned. We change preaching venues on a Sunday in mid-January to early February…and go at it.

The congregations love it. In fact, most of the members of each congregation look forward to it. When the Lutheran pastor came to our church a few years ago and delivered an eight minute message I had people the next Sunday asking when he could come back. I enjoy speaking in different churches because there are plenty of jokes I can tell about being a Baptist pastor. I’ve got a lot of bizarre stories as well, because “truth is stranger than fiction.” Being a Baptist pastor for almost 34 years now I can attest to the truth of that statement.

The value of trading pulpits for one is that as pastors, we visibly display our belief in, and commitment to, a church that has many shapes, sizes, emphases, colors, and looks, but one Lord, one Savior, and one Spirit.

The other value is a growing sense that other churches aren’t the enemy. Or even the competition. Just as I say that it takes the church and the school to partner together in creating a healthy community, I also believe that it takes our churches linking together in proclamation and ministry to be light in the midst of darkness.

There are many things that Dan Holt, Senior Pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and I can spend our time disagreeing on, but what we are united about is that Christ means Hope and Life and Truth. Of our eight pastors serving in the five congregations I am probably the most conservative theologically, but we don’t belabor our differences. We respect and value each other. To often value gets attributed only to people who resemble us.

Last Sunday I spoke in the Methodist church. I told them early on that the good news was that if I screwed anything up not to worry, Pastor Larry would be back next week. I had a good time delivering the word of the Lord. I’m almost afraid to say this, but they were perhaps even a little more receptive to what I was saying than my own congregation, because I was a new voice to them. Sometimes the familiar voice is respected and honored, but not necessarily heard with as much attention.

When our neighborhood pastors meet again the first Wednesday in February we will talk about how it went. There will be a heightened sense of connectedness with one another because we trusted each other, and our congregations trusted us to provide someone who would be faithful in bringing the Word of the Lord to them.

It was good!

Pastor Appreciating Month

October 11, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 October 11, 2012

 

I’m not sure when it started, and who started it, and how it came to find a home in October, but whatever the unanswered questions are we are eleven days into Pastor Appreciation Month. On Sunday I’ll wear the tie that some of our church kids made for me last year. It’s a great tie with hand prints of each of the kids on it.

Other people over the years have sent me cards, Starbucks gift cards, restaurant gift cards, books, taken Carol and me out to dinner, and expressed their gratitude in a number of ways.

Not to be mushy, but there is the other side of the ministry. It’s the side where the pastor appreciates. It’s the side where the heart of the pastor is meshed with the congregation in a multitude of life-sharing ways, the side where the passions of the pastor are expressed and owned by the people of the Body.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where people feel comfortable enough with him to talk about their spiritual questions, as well as their faith journeys.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where people mention to him something he said in a recent sermon that hit home in an experience they had not long after that.

The pastor appreciates people who initiate hugs.

The pastor appreciates people who ask him if they can pray for him.

The pastor appreciates children who give him high fives and are disappointed if there is a Sunday when there isn’t a children’s story time during morning worship.

The pastor appreciates sitting in Starbucks with someone who just needs to talk.

The pastor appreciates a congregation where the style of music is not nearly as important as the worship of God.

The pastor appreciates a youth group that sabotages his office.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that likes his Far Side cartoons that he posts outside his office.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that is inviting…and continuing. That is, they invite someone to come to church with them, and then continue the conversation over lunch.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that comes alongside persons with mobility problems.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that recognizes that they are living the Gospel.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that wants to make a difference in the community.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that lives out grace, not just expects to receive grace.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that becomes uncomfortable with the implications of the Gospel.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that he is not motivated or manipulated by money, and yet desires to make sure he receives a fair wage.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that sees value in each person, regardless of gender, age, race, financial or marital status.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that honors his day off, and, once in a while, even forces him to take a break.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that looks for ways that they can help him become more effective as a pastor.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that affirms, but also corrects.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that moves according to the voice of God, not according to who yells the loudest.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that claps!

The pastor appreciates a congregation where coffee can be taken into the sanctuary.

The pastor appreciates a congregation that is appreciative!

And perhaps most of all, the pastor appreciates a congregation that is appreciative long after October has passed!

Irrelevant Busyness

April 18, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    April 18, 2012

Every church at some time, now or later…or both/and…struggles with irrelevance. It is not that the church is irrelevant, it is rather that some of the things the church does are irrelevant. To borrow an example that Jesus used, it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than it is to get a church to stop doing a ministry or a program that it has always done!

If church programming was like a person’s plate going through a buffet line, or more appropriately a potluck dinner, it would be multi-layered. There would be “fruit jello outreach programs” on top of “fried chicken committee meetings” laying beside men’s early morning prayer pastries that are squashed on top of mashed potato women’s missionary circle meetings.

We layer our ministries like food gluttons who seem to think we can’t get enough, more is better! We create churchgoing obesity.

A few years ago I remember a friend of mine saying he didn’t want to be a Christian. When I asked why, he responded that he didn’t want to end up like his Christian neighbor who always seemed to be going to church for this meeting or that group. My friend had gotten the impression that being a follower of Christ seemed to carry with it implication that he would always be pulling into the church parking lot.

It prompts me to ask the question “What is relevant?”; and the second question “What are we doing simply because we have always done it?”

I’m leading a team of people from our regional group of American Baptist Churches that is addressing those very questions. We’re dealing with the challenge of figuring out what is really important, and what isn’t important but we don’t know what else to do!

Crucial questions for our region, but even more crucial for each congregation. There are some things that churches do that our culture looks at and just shakes it’s head in bewilderment of the waste of time they see in it.

Our culture has a longing for intimacy, a desire to explore the mystery of the Holy, and a hunger for relevance, but also sees the value of time. If a church function doesn’t help them in deepening relationships with God and one another, or lead them in the serving and life-impacting of others, it will be seen as irrelevant. If it no longer has a purpose or a function, its following will be in danger of being based on guilt rather than purpose.

In essence, the church must continually ask the question “Why?” Most of the time, that question is much more important than “how”, “what”, “where”, or “when?”

Feeding Mom

April 16, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    April 16, 2012

 

Parents treasure many different experiences with their kids. Taking them for an unplanned ice cream cone…school class field trips to the zoo…teaching the son how to properly tie a necktie.

The heart memories differ with each parent, and with each child of the parent.

When it comes to the final days of one of your parents there is a whole new collection of shared experiences that are valued, although painful.

I’m back in Ohio for a couple of weeks to spend time with my mom and dad. My mom is pretty much confined to her bed. Yesterday she was up in her wheelchair for three hours, which was the only time she had been out of bed since the previous Sunday. She has a form of Parkinson’s that has gradually eroded her mental functioning, verbalizing, and comprehension.

There is no “getting over it” in this lifetime. It isn’t a virus bug that a pill and rest can take care of.

It just is!

There isn’t much I can do, just be. One thing, however, that I do is feed Mom dinner each night. She has lost the use of her hands, so I scoot the broccoli on to the fork (Always with a bit of ranch dressing on top of it! Wait a minute! We never got ranch dressing for our broccoli!) I coax her into taking a drink  of juice with a straw. I spear a cut-up piece of chicken breast and hope that she will bite it off of the fork.

But something else precious and extraordinary has been happening as I feed Mom dinner. I’ve been going back and retelling her stories from the past, from when we lived beside Lexington Road in Winchester, Kentucky, and we had friend chicken one night. I said to Dad, “That was good fried chicken, Daddy!”

I’m glad you liked it, and now I can tell you that it wasn’t fried chicken.”

It wasn’t! It tasted like fried chicken. What was it…a turkey with short legs?”

Rabbit!”

My mind: “Fluffy!”

It takes Mom about an hour to eat dinner eat night, so we relive a lot of the old experiences.

Mom, remember when we had a dog? What was his name? Buster?

She every so slightly shakes her head no. I’m sure his name was Buster.

Remember when Dad would turn Buster over on his back and slide him across the kitchen linoleum floor? And then Buster would get back on his feet and come back for more.”

A blank look. Later on that evening when I ask Dad if the dog’s name was Buster he tells me “No, it was Butch!”

Mom knew, although she couldn’t verbalize it.

Each fork of food is ripe with some other discovery.

Remember when Mamaw and Papaw would take us kids on a summer evening in the back of his truck to the place down the road that served ice cream cones?”

Two eyes gaze at me for several moments, but… nothing.

What was the name of that place? Salyer’s?”

The slight nod of correction again. The name goes undiscovered until I talk to my dad later, but…as my mom’s nod of no indicated, it wasn’t Salyer’s.

There are even special touches of God upon our lives in the acts that we would prefer to never have to do. There are blessings from him even in the midst of the parts of life that we dread. As my mom slowly loses ground there are moments of connection and conversation that will stand out for the rest of my life.

I often read Romans 8:26-28 with a grimace. Feeding Mom has given me a glimpse of a new meaning in the same words. In The Message its rendered “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

With an ache in my heart, but a longing in my soul, I look forward to what we’ll recall tonight. Perhaps it will deal with beets and turnips, or bow ties, or the time she caught me sneaking back from a place that she had specifically forbidden me to go. If I go “there”, I’m wondering if I’ll get the raised eyebrows look that let’s me know she remembers!

Forgetting Our Purpose, But Remembering Our Cell Phone

April 15, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                                         April 15, 2012

 

Many people think I’m clueless…and I am in some respects! Without guidance from my wife my colorblindness can cause the reactions around me to non-verbally communicate “What was he thinking?” And there have been other times when a “thank you” to Carol for the dinner she has just cooked would have been appreciated, but I cluelessly sat there like a “man stone”- word-less!

So I admit my cluelessness. One time I even walked through an airport terminal unzipped before my friend may mention of an open barn door. When your “openness” is suddenly revealed it causes you to think about all the smiles and grins you have just received in the last five minutes.

But…there are other things I’m pretty observant of. In recent times I’ve noticed the attitude and attentiveness of workers in restaurants and business establishments. It might go to the fact that I just read Patrick Lencioni’s book The Three Signs Of A Miserable Job.

Sometimes the customer seems to be an inconvenience. A couple of weeks ago Carol and I took our daughters and grand kids to Dairy Queen. I like Dairy Queen. Years ago my Aunt Irene bought me my first foot-long hot dog there, plus my first banana split. Unfortunately, they were during the same meal and I just about split my tummy trying to eat both items. My Uncle Milliard, who was married to my Aunt Irene, bought a Dairy Queen for a few months, and just as quickly sold it because the fourteen hour days were killing him. He knew it was time to sell when one day he looked out at the long line of customers and yelled “Doesn’t anyone eat at home anymore?” Although in question form, it was not really a question!

Back to my recent DQ stew! The young man who took our order seemed to be more interested in one of the young ladies who was working the drive-thru lane than he was in the guy with the twenty dollar bill in his hand. We ordered, and all of our order came…except one item! Mine! My Peanut Butter Bash…missing in action!

I was patient, waiting to the side as other customers placed their orders…and then received…and then left. As I waited I noticed the young man’s cell phone placed right next to the register, and every twenty seconds or so he would receive a text from someone who was obviously more important then me. And he would respond to it.

My clueless side was not so pronounced that I thought to myself “Wow! People can text their orders to DQ ahead of time now. That’s pretty neat!”

No, I was just waiting for my Peanut Butter Bash, which I will never ever order again!

Finally, I got Employee X’s attention and told him that I hadn’t received part of our order. He asked me what I was waiting on, and I told him “Peanut Butter Bash”, which when you think of it, sounds kind of stupid. In fact, as I told him I almost felt immature, like ordering a kids’s meal when I’m old enough to order off of the Senior Menu.

In about 30 seconds he put the PBB in front of me with no “Sorry about that”, or “My bad!”…just put it right there and checked his cell phone again.

How often it seems that we forget our purpose for being where we are, and for what we’re doing. We just put in the time in a lackluster manner, making no impact and giving minimal attention and effort.

Could it be that the church needs to learn from the DQ guy? That being the hands and feet of Jesus to a person who is in the midst of a listening ear is more important than the text from Howdy Doody saying “Hey?”

Just saying…could it be that we sometimes just put the time in…without thinking how our attentiveness could be a connecting link in someone’s life transformation experience? Perhaps reducing the times of cluelessness might result from a more attentiveness to the whisper of the Spirit.

 


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