Monday, September 29, 2014

Can Others See Your Gratefulness?

I was so excited to start out in full time ministry after I graduated college.  I was the full time Youth Minister at New Haven United Methodist Church.  The fun part of the job was relating to all the kids there at the church.  The time I spent with the actual youth was what I did the best and what felt the most meaningful.

But some of the rest of the time during the week - the time I spent in the office was a little rough.

After planning the lessons for Sunday school and the youth group, I was unsure of what to do next.  I had been a full-time summer intern for two different churches in college but those weeks are full of camps and activities.  There was never any time to breathe let alone plan for the long-term.

Is this person happy or sad?
Who can say?  Communication is complex.
Ken Tobler was our Senior Pastor at New Haven and I was too embarrassed to tell him that I didn't really have a clue on how I should be spending my time to be most effective.

Eventually he called me into his office.  He closed the door and asked me to sit down. I could tell that this was a serious conversation because he was normally joking around all the time.  I think I began to sweat at this point.

But I didn't expect the question that came out of his mouth.

"Are you on drugs?"


Ken seemed to think that my attitude was reflective of someone who smokes a lot of dope.  I seemed despondent around the office - lackadaisical - uninterested.

I was really just confused and embarrassed.

But I certainly didn't realize that I was coming across like I was stoned!

I learned an important lesson in how we interact with others.  I learned that we sometimes unintentionally portray feelings that may be the opposite of how we actually feel.  

This can be true of the gratitude we think we show.  Do our actions reflect what we say we believe about God?  Can we actually practice what it means to be grateful and will this make us happier people?  This Sunday, we'll begin a four-week series in a foray outside the lectionary as we gear up for our pledge Sunday on October 26.  Our first theme will gratitude and we will be exploring the woman caught in adultery from John 8:1-11.

I appreciate Ken's willingness to have the difficult conversation with me.  I hope that my gratitude shows in my actions to do the same with others.

In Christ,


Picture used through creative commons from jtneill from wikimedia commons.

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