The other afternoon at a party, I was out on the back deck snacking and talking with a member when I was suddenly blown away by the wisdom-filled words of a child. As we were talking, the woman’s young son came up and joined in our conversation. At one point, motioning toward me, the woman asks her son: “Do you know who this is?” With such ease, the small child responds: “Yeah, that’s our church guy!” We all laughed. The situation was humorous—in a very cute way, the kid was spot on with his answer; and yet I felt like I had been blown away by this little boy’s simple, though profound statement. Awestruck by his response, I agreed: “Yep, you’re absolutely correct. I’m your church guy.” This child’s thought-provoking reply bounced around in my head the remainder of the night.
After the initial response of letting the title “our church guy” go straight to my head and stir my ego, I began to ponder the implications of this young child’s statement. What does it mean to be one’s “church guy/church gal”? The worst temptation in answering this question would be to assume it meant I am somehow in control of or authoritatively over the church. Such a blasphemy would mean removing Christ from the head of the church, and replacing him with the far less qualified ME. As one who is simultaneously saint and SINNER, let me be the first to say I am by no means willing or able to step up to such a position reserved for God alone. Without trying to speak for my young parishioner, I think it is safe to suggest this is not what he meant by his response. Maybe a safer, more appropriate, answer would be to say this was just his way of calling me pastor. At a young age, this boy has already associated me with the role of pastor in his church.
As my mind raced and I continued to think on this young boy’s answer to the question: “Do you know who this is?” I began to wrestle with what it means for me to be “that’s our church guy”--not just for him, but for all the children in the two congregations I serve. Moved by his wisdom of being able to distinguish me as associated with the church, it’s important that I consider how I conduct myself as these young people’s “church guy.” The questions surrounding the roles and responsibilities of the pastor are enough for another, much longer, conversation. If nothing else, this (rambling if will call it that) has been a delightfully fruitful opportunity for me to listen to the wisdom of a child and ponder on it. Instead of ignoring this young boy’s response, or perhaps worse--correcting him--I am astonished and humbled by both his innocence and brilliance. I thank God in Christ Jesus for this little one and his wisdom shared with me. Take the time to listen to children (yours and others)—they have so much to teach us all; and just maybe they are the vessel through whom God is choosing to speak marvelous things.