Crazy. Unusual. Smart, maybe a smart aleck at times. Fun, and funny. Unique. Innovative. Smart. Rebel. Too reformed. A bit distant at times. Naive. Weird sense of humor.
Early in my ministry, I was defined in a lot of different ways by a lot of different people. I was told that I needed to change, not be so rebellious (which I guess means different than the one telling me I needed to change). I was told to change my style, my attire, my haircut, my sense of humor, and my hobbies. Apparently someone thought I went to too many movies (thanks mom, I heard you several times, but … you got your wish for the closest theater is 30 miles away, no more afternoon escapes.)
Some didn’t approve of my style and creativity. I would dress my 6 month old for VBS announcements. (He probably needs therapy after all I did to him. To the woman who eventually ends up with him, I apologize now.) I dressed liked Satan for a sermonette n and emphasized how the devil is out for each of us. I dropped money from the rafters to announce a Financial Peace class. Used a ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ format for a Bible study rally. Youth rubber band wars all through a church building. For one sermon, I had snakes all over the stage (rubber ones, but a church member offered real ones if I were to preach the same sermon again … wowzah). These are just a few moments on the highlight reel.
But one person, from the depth of his heart, gave the advice to not ever let people change me. Be the person God created me.
I love that advice. Now he wasn’t referring to learning better skills, getting better at relating to people, or letting God chisel me into more Christlikeness. He was referring to my style, my approach, and my creative way of doing life.
This week, I had lunch with a friend who had known me at my previous church and still chooses to be at my present church (a bit demented for one to do that, but he is a friend). He said I am different now, different now from how I was then. Aaughh. Really?
I get my hair is grayer, face has more wrinkles (from laughing so much in life), my waist is bigger (still working on that), and my walk is weirder. Due to a medical issue, I have a titanium hip and I can’t really stand up straight … but I live with that. I even eat a veggie or salad ever so often, but not too often. So what does he mean?
He said I am a bit less uptight, a bit less stressed, and even a little more huggable (oh I hate that last one). Maybe it is a deeper trust in God, a matured faith and reliance, or even that I listen to Lisa more … for her wisdom way outpaces mine.
And another person just yesterday, a person considering membership at my current church but wanted to see what the ‘new guy’ would be like. She commented that I was not like other pastors, I was a regular guy. Crazy, and when it comes to how I related to her, I was digging a hole with my humor that I may not be able to get out of. I think she was being sarcastic and joking, I think. I hope.
But I do desire this … to be authentic, be transparent, be me. I will use humor, I will continue to challenge people to drop the masks and be themselves at church … yes, let God transform them and mold them into Christ likeness, but don’t conform to the world or other people’s mold – only His. I will continue to use Johnny Cash or Lecrae or Weird Al songs during worship. I will use props, use anything to get the point of Scripture across. And yes, I still have rubber snakes in a box awaiting a chance to get out.
And I say the same to you. God created you and each of us is unique. Be the person God created you to be. Holy, relational, growing … but you.
And for the record, I will not use real snakes … well, probably not.
So, are you being the you God made?