As a Christian man, I have made a great mistake. I have toned down who I really am. Christ changed me, but in doing so, He did not take away my particular abilities. One of the greatest mistakes that I have made as a Christian man is that I have, at times, forgotten that I am bold for a reason. Due to God given abilities and specialized training, life experience, and freakish size, I can command rather than demand respect. Please do not see this a bragging. I can command a room. This is because God has given me that ability.
Last night, I took my wife out to dinner. There were some good games on, so we ate in the area where there were TVs (the dreaded BAR area) were. This is where I prefer to sit anyway, as many times, I end up praying with some poor soul who has fallen and needs a hand up. My daughter Dory marvels at the fact that I can go to a Karaoke night and end up praying with some poor, broken person who needs Jesus. That has become my ministry, for better or for worse. Ending up where the broken, the sinners, the people who have suffered tragedies, where they are.. that is where I have ended up. I am still a pastor. I struggle with the fact that, like being a Marine, once a pastor, always a pastor, unless you disqualify yourself. Some time we will tackle that whole issue. Who am I? I am a pastor at large.
So, last night, I am out with my wife and I am at dinner. There are two men sitting within ten feet of us who are using the “f” word as if it is the only adjective that is available. They are obviously impaired, obviously don’t realize how loud they are being, and obviously oblivious to how obnoxious it is to hear this over and over when you want to just relax and have dinner. My wife says “I feel like saying something”. When she said that, I realized that it is not her job to say something. It is mine. I am the man. I am her covering. She is offended and I need to figure out how to let these two know that they are being offensive.
Being over 300 lbs is a burden at times. However, being 300 lbs, bald, long Van Dyke beard, and having an authoritative voice are all gifts that God has given to me. So, with that in mind and the lack of the gene that says that two against one are never good odds, I looked at the two men from my seat, and said “Boys…. your language… do I have to wash your mouths out with soap?” Making eye contact with both, no emotion, not loudness, just a firm confidence that I was in the right and able to back myself up if I had to, sent a message to these two men. They looked at each other, I looked at them, they looked at each other again, then they apologized. The came over, they hugged me. They said that they knew they were wrong and that they were getting carried away. My wife had a smile on her face that said “My Hero!”. One of the men’s girlfriends came over and thanked me. I found out that we grew up near each other, as they were from Cumberland RI, and I grew up in Wrentham (a border town). We had a nice chat and not one single “f bomb” proceeded again from their mouths.
So, what is the application here? God has given me gifts that I have neglected for a long time. There was a time where I should have fought but instead, I did not fight and let somebody do me great harm. and harm others. If I had fought, many of the things that make my life difficult today would be different. My children would be in a different place right now. My financial situation would be different. Had I walked in the gifts that God gave me instead of doing what I thought I was supposed to do, a lot would be different. Knowing this now is going to make a difference moving forward. As my brother Alice Cooper sang “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. (Yes, Alice Cooper is a brother in Christ!)
God says that the “Meek shall inherit the Earth”. Meekness is “power under control”. Even knowing this, I found meekness to be something like weakness, but it is not. Instead of standing up and putting my finger in their face and saying “If I hear one more “F” word out of you I am going to beat the Hell out of you”, I simply asked them a question: “Do I have to wash your mouth out with soap?” They got the point. They saw their error, and they repented. They went from boldly swearing the paint off the walls to seeing their error and making their language more acceptable. I would love the opportunity to share Jesus with them some day. For today, I got them to stop ruining my wife’s dinner. I was her hero, and that was good enough for me.
Soon after, an older man who was sitting at the bar stopped me and thanked me, as did the people next to him. They all were bothered by these two men being so loud and using filthy language. They thanked me for being bold. I whispered to the old man that it was because of Jesus that I was able to be bold. He smiled, shook my hand firmly, in the way that only a man who has worked very hard for many years could, and thanked me again.
For the New Year, I am asking Jesus to remind me that He made me a warrior. He made me the way that I am, and I have no choice but to walk in it. People may not like what I have to say, but I am going to speak the truth in love and share Jesus whenever I get the opportunity. Meekness does not equal being a doormat. It equals walking in what Christ has given you and being true to that. Thank you Jesus for making me who I am, and showing me that I just have to walk it out.