Sidelines: Always Learning

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By Monica deRegt

As a "pastor family" there are several things that can set your family apart within the church congregation. Some of those things are obvious differences (like not being able to complain about the youth pastor's sermons!) and some are self-inflicted (like choosing not to get involved in things due to conflict of interest situations). But there are times when members of the congregation can be the ones causing you to feel "unique". One way that this is often experienced is the "pedestal phenomenon"--the feeling by some people that you are somehow more knowledgeable or experienced in all matters church and faith related. It's the subtle heads turning towards you when a challenging question is asked at a Bible study, or the "what would YOU do?" aimed your way when someone is agonizing over parenting their wayward child. Sound familiar? I'm sure you have your examples.

While there might be an ounce of truth to the idea that you and your spouse may have some more specified education or experience in the mysterious world of ministry, the fact is that this "pedestal mentality" can be at times baffling, lonely, intimidating, and.....ego-boosting. Yes, when you are not shaking your head or chuckling at this phenomenon, it can actually feel pretty good to know that people want your advice, or that people value your opinion and perceive you as all-knowing. It can also be easy to start believing that you really do know more than everyone around you. And from one "I'm-always-right" person to another, I'm here to share a story and a reminder to stay humble.

One morning while I was not-so-patiently trying to get our daughter's hair done before church, she asked me to stop so she could sing the song she made up. It went a little like this "Oh God, we love you, you are so wonderful, thank you for making us and thank you that we can go to church today to worrrrrrrrrrrship YOU!" It made me smile, but I was still on a mission to get that hair in the clip and get out the door on time, looking like a well put together family. In the back of my mind, I felt some light bulbs trying to go off, and so I remembered to encourage her and praised her song saying, "that's so sweet, honey, I'm sure God is smiling down on you when you sing like that to Him!" She promptly and indignantly corrected me saying, "Mommy! You mean that God is smiling up at me, not down, because He lives in my heart!"

Oh I had so much to learn from my daughter that morning. She not only reminded me that God cares about our worship and our hearts far more than our outward appearances, but she also showed me that I needed a little alignment in my perspective when it comes to God's place in my life. That He is not distantly "up there" but He is right here with us, in our hearts. What a much more accurate and comforting visual.

No matter how much we know, or how much we or others think we know, we can always learn from those around us. Especially when you are in a position in which others look up to you, try asking yourself what you can learn from them. You'll be surprised how God can use others to teach you about Himself and His world. Think about those youth who value friendships and relationships so much they will pretty much move mountains to maintain them. We sometimes smile and nod at their fanatical friendships with a "I remember those days" kind of a chuckle that implies that we know better. Do we really know better? Or could we learn from them that God created us to be relational and to need others instead of so individually independent? Or think about the people in your church who value the more traditional hymns and music. We can get frustrated and roll our eyes, thinking these people are so out of touch with the times, and that they need to get more progressive if they want the church to thrive and grow. What can we learn from them? Perhaps if we think beyond our own idea of what is right and best, we could learn a healthy dose of respect and reverence from these people.

God didn't place us on this earth alone. Be blessed by those around you on this journey. And may God smile up at you as you walk with Him today.

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