This last week I have heard or read several people as they have encouraged folks to get ready for Lent. My first and unbidden, thought was “Isn’t Lent a time of preparation and now they want me to prepare for that? Is this Baden Powell gone amok?” Sober second thought tells me that one can never be too prepared, but this incident may open a glimpse of my typical inner conversation.
I was asked once “What would you do if you were not in ministry?” I answered before I thought. If answering before thinking was a super-power I might rule the earth. (It is probably just as well that it isn’t!) My quick answer was “Stand up comedy!”
I have always thought I was funny. I amuse myself! This is one reason I am seldom lonely. Since childhood I just see things from a different angle than most people. Some say a glass is half full. Some say the glass is half empty. I think “Why is that glass so big?” Such thinking combined with a penchant for unthinking, made for an adventurous childhood. Parents and teachers and peers did not always appreciate my observations! Amusing myself with off the wall thoughts helped pass the time through hours of detentions, in school. Adults despaired that I would ever grow out of this ‘smart Alec’ phase, and I never have.
But like most misfits in school the very thing that made life difficult turned out to be the attribute that makes me useful now. Seeing things from a different angle or through a different lens has enabled me to see ‘missional’ opportunities where others have not.
In my first placement as a student I found myself sitting with a toddler watching Sesame Street. I decided to amuse her by imitating Kermit. To my surprise, I sounded much like him. I tried Bert and then Ernie. Soon I had a full-blown children’s ministry using Sesame Street puppets. While other young evangelists used their guitars, I used my quirky voices and comic bent for script writing. These characters took me all across Canada until I was finally invited out from behind the puppet theatre into pulpits.
I listened to Elders in northern communities as they told tales of life and wild life in their environs and began to use stories like Aesop did his Fables, to tell stories with a Gospel truth as ‘the moral of the story’, and by doing so earned a very respectful hearing.
I saw the opportunities to share in prison and learned to tell the good news in plain language that spoke to their needs. Prison is not a lot of laughs, so I discovered that I could earn a hearing by making them laugh, mostly through self-deprecating humour.
When I began inner-city ministry, it was through seeing life through a different lens that brought me to the ideas for: a laundry ministry, or vacation from the city ministry, or to a lavish banquet ‘Fiesta’. The list goes on, but the up shot is that seeing things differently is a useful skill.
God gives each of us unique ‘gifts’ to be used to his glory. I wonder how often adults have left behind their superpower and been conformed to this world. Instead God would like to transform that gift and renew us in the process and make us useful to his Kingdom. If he can use my silly skewed view think how he might use you! I urge you therefore sisters and brothers, to throw off the shackles of conformity and search out once more that unique gift that has been yours, and offer it to him to be renewed to his glory!