Elizabeth the First… November 15, 2012

(1,700)

 

Ill-suited.

Similar to wearing a turtleneck and a cardigan sweater to a Metallica concert. That was me last night.

I arrived in the tiny burg of Elizabeth, Indiana, to a church that planned a concert with us, but had focused its efforts on bringing in an audience of children to view the performance. It was not a malicious act on their part–they have a rich and fulfilling ministry of reaching out to neighborhood youth on Wednesday evenings, with a meal and a time of kindness, so as to express the church’s tenderness to the kids. The pastor just wanted to afford these fine young ones a new experience.

Unfortunately, I found myself ill-suited.

I was suddenly thrust in front of fifty or sixty young humans between the ages of seven and fourteen. Understand, the last time I was their age, Lyndon Johnson was President and the Beatles had just invaded America. Neither one of those particular insights would be valuable to this present crop of offspring.

I had three immediate emotions–I was a bit frustrated with the fact that I had ended up in this dilemma, unable to share freely from my given talents and resources. Secondly, I felt a tad diminished, and perhaps even insulted, to have my abilities displayed in such a limited and specific capacity. And third, I felt like an absolute brat for feeling the previous two.

I was at war with myself. I had no idea how I was going to transform my material into the kind of vernacular and visual comprehension that would reach this particular generation of earth-dwellers. On top of that, the handful of adults who attended the event–teetering between chaperones and prison guards–were so preoccupied with their positions as instructors or overseers that they were not of any particular assistance in increasing the attention span or cultural depth of the room.

No, it seemed this was going to be a show for kids. What was I supposed to do? Of course, my worst fear was boring them. I think the reason we fail most of the time with young humans is that we have a two-fold agenda, instead of seeking out a single purpose. Especially in the church, we not only want to welcome these fledglings into our presence with entertainment and excitement, but also feel a necessity to indoctrinate them into our religious system at the same time. We must understand that religion is a hindrance to true spirituality. It doesn’t matter whether you’re six years old or sixty. You waste time by trying to get children to believe in God by teaching them the etiquette, stance and correct posture for praying. My job was NOT to convince these dear children that the church is the answer to their problems. Not only would such an endeavor be fruitless, but also not particularly honest.

In the few moments before I was introduced, I realized that the mission of the evening was not that much different for these little ones than it is for an average adult congregation.

  1.  See if you can get them to step out of themselves for a few moments and think about the beauty of life.
  2. Show them that good cheer is not an occasional option to relieve tension, but the only way to live to avoid it.
  3. Make sure they understand that Jesus came to side-step religion and offer the option of a personal relationship.

Once I clarified those thoughts, it became rather simple. Oh, I did a few extra songs that had some pep. I told more stories than commenting on cultural phenomenon or scriptural twists and turns, and I made the show a bit more interactive than you might do at the downtown First United Methodist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, on a Sunday morning. But other than that, I simply introduced them to Jesus, who already made it clear that he loves the little ones and wants to bounce them on his knee and bless them.

I was ill-suited going into the event and equally so coming out–so I simply relied on the ideas of my favorite messenger, Jesus, who told us that each and every one of us needs to become just like these little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

I shall not drop my present outreach to become a minister to children. But I am grateful that the message I share can reach all ages, all races, all denominations and all levels of faith … or doubt. It’s because I try to keep my message as simple as possible, centered around the heart of Jesus instead of the doctrine of the church.

It was a good evening. I was so glad I experienced it because it showed my weaknesses, and gave me a chance to bolster some of my previous failures into better efforts. Yes, my friend, if you’re going to become more accomplished, you have to start out being willing to do things poorly.

Elizabeth the First was God’s gift to me–to both inform me of my inadequacy and show me that His grace is sufficient to my need.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://jonathots.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/elizabeth-the-first-november-15-2012/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: