You Just Never Know

You Just Never Know

You just never know. You can live your entire life and never know. Then when you least expect it, you hear it for the very first time. I’d like to believe that sometime along my journey of faith, I have made a significant contribution. It could have been to the larger church that we refer to as the Disciples of Christ, or maybe it might have been to one of congregations I have been fortunate enough to participate in as a member, or staff person, or pastor. I hope I have been a good member or staff person or pastor wherever I’ve been. I’m thinking more about the unexpected times when I may have been a significant character on the stage of life without even knowing it. It happened the other day, on my birthday. Turns out I share that day with a person I have never met (okay, there may be thousands of those folks, but I’m interested in just this one today).

I read the words written on my facebook page with a degree of surprise and a feeling of, well, I’m not sure how to describe it really. From a young woman who was in the youth group at First Christian Church, Knoxville when I served there, I received this birthday greeting.

“Happy birthday to two people who were major influences in my life when I was in high school: Marsha Livingston who taught me a second language and Douglas Meister who taught me about Christian leadership. God grant them both many years!”

I never met Tara’s teacher and I’m not sure what language Marsha Livingston taught her in those days. And I honestly don’t remember ever teaching her about Christian leadership. But I guess I did a better job of it than I knew! Truth is, most of the people we spend any amount of time with are likely learning things from us, especially the ones who are younger and looking up to the adults in their lives.

We, you and I, as members of the Body of Christ, affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and members of the congregation calling itself Jeffersontown Christian Church are role model for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is never a time when our words and our actions are not being watched and learned from by others including ones we don’t even think about. I have for many years advocated for people (adults) practicing stewardship education. I’m not talking about teaching children about giving, or telling them how important giving is to our faith development. No, I’m talking about showing them.

In worship, when the offering plates are passed down the rows, what do the children see: people joyfully placing offering envelopes in the plates or people passing it without putting anything into it? I have even suggested from time to time that folks just put an empty envelop in the plate as a symbol of what they gave through direct deposit or monthly or quarterly giving. You know, in Worship and Wonder downstairs, the children are encouraged to put something in the plate every week. When they don’t have any money to give, they place their hand in the plate and offer a prayer of thanks for something they have received or for someone they wish to say a prayer for that morning. Maybe we should learn from them and follow their example. And in doing so we could become the new teachers and role models for others. Who knows, maybe one of them will become a minister some day as well. Not to mention that we would benefit from the practice of giving thanks and praying for another person.