Anticipating Chandler coming with me on my trip to New England next week is bringing back memories of having my two adult children, Christopher and Anne, with me on similar trips when we lived in Massachusetts and they were Chandler’s age and younger. Those of you who are parents will recognize the phenomenon of older children starting to let you in on stories of what they got away with when they were younger. It was only much later that I found out they were raiding the kitchens in churches and camps while I was speaking, xeroxing their little butts in the church office, and crawling under the pews and tying people’s shoelaces together during my concerts. They were not the perfect kids I imagined; they did not share my commitment to my reputation.
I can’t say that I blame them. I will admit I was unrealistic in my expectations, but I’m quite sure they got some encouragement towards precocious behavior from their mother. After all, this is the woman who idolizes Eloise at the Plaza stories.
I think in hindsight, Marti was secretly pleased that my kids were just being kids and besmirching my supposed sterling reputation. She has always played that role in my life, knowing that if any part of my ministry was based on false pretenses, that would just push the Spirit of God right out of it. If you want a perfect reputation as a minister, that’s about all you’re going to get, and that, only for a while. Sooner or later your real life will catch up to you, and the sooner, the better.
Real ministry only comes by way of the real Holy Spirit through real people. I know this, maybe even better than most, but I still try to protect myself for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, what can you expect from little kids but to be kids.
I can already hear myself lecturing Chandler about being on his best behavior for my sake on this trip. I think I’ll try and leave off that lecture. I have a feeling it could backfire on me. What good is a good impression if it is only that? It’s not even real, and it feeds all the wrong things about what ministry really is.
You can make a good impression, or you can make a God impression. One is at the cost of honesty, the other is at the cost of your reputation which you can afford to lose anyway. If it’s your religion, you’ll be better off losing it.
Did I tell you about the time Anne projectile vomited from the front of a church in Maine as I introduced her and Christopher during a day long music event? She even hit a few people in the front row. That was right before I got up to sing and speak.