Years ago one of my professors, Dallas Meserve, taught us something we needed to know in order to succeed in ministry. It wasn’t what you would expect–and wasn’t what we expected. He looked at a roomful of us and said: “To survive in ministry, you have to be able to laugh.” Well, we were ok with that, but then he began pointing to individuals in the class saying things like: “you have to be able to laugh at that belly!” or “you have to laugh at that hair”. He turned it on himself and, rubbing his totally bald head, said “you have to see that this is funny”!
Laughing at people is a dangerous proposition. But Dallas had a point. In a given week I interact with hundreds of people from infants to 90 year olds. Anglos, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and Islanders. Millionaires and homeless people. People who are extremely intelligent and people with mental illness or developmental delays. They are demanding, illogical, and absurd. They are also loving and caring, sensitive and devoted. One minute I’m being encouraged by someone telling me how the Holy Spirit used something I said; the next minute I’m being chewed out because it is Sunday (somehow that was my fault). I’ve been accused of chopping someone’s head off and invited to visit the space ship behind the worship center. I was assured that Jesus buried gold under our chapel in 1650–and offered a chance to find it to help our financial situation. Neighbors drop by to tell us how grateful they are for the ministry we provide the community and a businessman is upset because we don’t support his “massage parlor” (yeah, that kind).
I have learned to laugh at these situations while trying not to laugh at the people. In the meantime, I find something odd–there are those who seem to find *me* humorous. From my beard (I really see nothing funny about it) to the way I seem to get energetic (I was called “giddy”) a few days before I’m to see one of my grandkids (uhh, and kids:-)) Apparently it is “cute”.
We are a funny people.
I believe God is laughing at us right now–in the same way I used to laugh at the antics and statements of my kids. His laughter isn’t based in ridicule, but in love and joy. It is ok to laugh, so long as in our laughing, we continue to respect.
Laugh today, and consider sharing the humor with us!