I grew up thinking I was supposed to prove to the non-Christian people around me that I was overflowing with the “fruit of the Spirit”. The idea was they would become intrigued and curious about Jesus if they saw how upbeat and positive and “blessed” I was. The problem is I was faking it most of the time. Not to mention, it was exhausting to come up with “silver lining” explanations for the difficult and painful things going on all around me. Looking back, I probably wasn’t fooling people as much as I thought I was.
I’d only been living in Colorado for a couple weeks when I got a job driving offroad tours. I was literally paid to drive an H1 Hummer through the mountains pointing out ghost towns, old silver mines and scaring the poop out of tourists with my driving wheeling skills. Best. Job. Ever.
My customers didn’t realize it (I hoped) but that first summer they probably knew as much about ghost towns, whistle pigs and the last legal brothel in Colorado as I did. I only got one day of training with a driver from another tour company before my boss (who lived in another state) set me loose. I got lost, high-centered the Hummer on a snow pack, and once even ran out of gas mid-tour. The guy who trained me talked all day and still had only one useful thing to teach me. He told me when people asked a question about a particular flower or rock formation and I didn’t know the answer I should just make something up and put the phrase, “rocky mountain” in front of it.
Tourist: What’s that animal there?
Chip: Oh…uh…that’s a “Rocky Mountain Cave Dog”.
Tourist: What sort of things did they mine in these mountains?
Chip: Well, mostly a rare metal called “Ore-us Rocky-us Montan-us”.
That’s pretty much how I made it through my first season. Thank goodness there was no cell coverage in those hills so they couldn’t fact check me!
I’m grateful that God is not a tourist who overpaid for a trip through the mountains–expecting me to be an expert on the trails and terrain of my life. I understand this in my head, but am often still tempted to pretend I understand more than I do about him and his work–or worse, act like I know what I’m talking about with others. It seems like many people would rather have a church leader who talks like he’s sure of what he’s saying than one who might say, “I don’t know–let me get back to you on that.”. I think I’d like to be a pastor who learns along with people as much as leading them. Of course, there is a certain level of scholarship, prayer and spiritual discernment required of a pastor–even so, I believe there is an equal need for a good pastor to cultivate a humble and teachable spirit. In fact, I think God is likely looking for that same spirit in all of us.