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Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Gospel Cheerleader (Finding Meaning in the Small Stuff)

Recently, my pastor paused his sermon and joked, “This would be a great place to insert an ‘amen.’” People chuckled and obliged him. Then he added, “Sometimes when you preach, you have to be your own cheerleader.”

That’s all it took to send my mind floating out the window, where it promptly bought one ticket to “Imagination Station” and created a brand new ministry.

I whispered to my daughter, “What if there really were a ‘Gospel Cheerleader?’ She could stand to one side of the pastor and do her thing when he pauses--you know, pump up the crowd!” She gave me that teenager-to-mom look that says, “Even your very thoughts embarrass me, Mother.”

I’m not being irreverent; I’m used to thinking in terms of creatively engaging youth. Plus, I’m an old cheerleader-- very old--so I couldn’t let it go. For example, suppose the pastor were recounting the scene at the empty tomb. He would pause, look to his right, and then Gospel Cheerleader would step forward in her uniform and chant, “I said He’s not here! It’s not a con; Jesus, Jesus, He is GONE! Yaaaaaay Jesus!” After a jump and wild cheering from the congregation, she would step back, snap her arms behind her, lower her chin and reverently wait for the next pause.

Anyway, I thought about his words again: “Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.” Besides your own vocation, I think you could also apply this to whatever it is that you set out to do--housework, leading the kids’ praise team, carpooling, folding bulletins, paying bills, lawn mowing, etc. -- because those accomplishments often go unappreciated, and yet, they need to be done.

A long time ago, I earned a college degree and made plans for my life that never included stuffing envelopes. Although youth ministry can be fun and fulfilling, on days when I’m stuffing hundreds of envelopes, I often lose sight of the significance of the task. In those moments, I have to remember that each envelope represents a student who will hold the enclosed message/ coupon/ event promotion. Depending on what’s going on his life, he may look over the contents and decide to come to church that weekend, where my boss can deliver the Gospel in a way this kid can relate to.

True, it’s tough to see significance when you’re moving rocks from one place to another on neighborhood clean-up day, but in Matthew 25:21, we’re reminded that God does notice our faithfulness in small tasks: "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’” and in Zechariah 4:10, we’re told that God is pleased by the quality of our work, no matter how menial it is in others’ eyes—we are not to “despise the day of small things,” or the infant steps taken as we learn to stride.

Knowing that God is pleased by our faithfulness in routine tasks is energizing. Romans 15:5 says that he’s cheering us on (supplying encouragement and the power of patient endurance). When it all comes down, I need to remember I’m planting seeds in kids’ lives. And if you go a little further with this, you could say I’m stuffing envelopes for Jesus!

So for all I know, when I’m working on a bulk mailing, there may be a cheerleader Angel of the Lord sitting on my desk chanting:

“Come on, Linda, you gotta stay tough; into those envelopes stuff, stuff, stuff! Now fold it to the left; fold it to the right! Get this mailing out tonight! Bulk mail, postcards, yucky glue! Do it for Jesus; He loves you! Goooo youth ministry! Yay!”

(OK, Gospel Cheerleader Angel is a little over-the-top, but he can’t help it; he’s full of Spirit.)

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Linda,

You go girl!! I think it is the small thankless tasks that our God always notices. Keep on stuffin'.

Love and hugs, Lynn

April 15, 2007 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Connie Barris said...

I think God is trying to say something today...
My devotional was along the same lines...

But I had to laugh at yours because I could just see that in my church.. now I love my church and those in it dearly.. but half of the elders would fall over dead!!!!

sometimes I let an AMEN slip and it's funny... but when I get a chance on the pulpit.. they really don't know what to say...

I LOVE your writings...

Blessings,
Connie

April 15, 2007 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

It is in these small thankless jobs that our attitudes really do show through, isn't it? This post was a great encouragement!

April 15, 2007 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

I'll be listening for that cheerleading angel in my life. :)

April 15, 2007 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Hummie said...

Did I type the wrong meme name in my last post? I meant Thankful Thursday....I cannot find it on your blog. Can you help me?

April 15, 2007 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

I really loved this post. Go Linda Go!! Woo Hoo!!

April 15, 2007 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

What a hoot! I go to a small Baptist church and over the past few years he has picked up quite a few cheerleaders in our congregation.One woman put it in everyday language when she said, saying amen during a sermon is like yelling "sickem" to a fighting dog. It sure works that way with my pastor. Today he was on fire--I was afraid if we said "amen", he might take off like a rocket.

April 15, 2007 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Hummie, thanks for asking. I've sent you an email.

April 15, 2007 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Sincerity said...

Sometimes when you do small things for others it seems like no one really notices how much energy it took for you to do it. But God sees everything and if our attitude is right... He will bless us for it.

Thank you for reminding all of us that even though living is, many times, about the small, menial things they are significant to plans God has for our lives and others. :)

April 15, 2007 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

I love this post :) - thank you for the reminder that no matter what we are doing, He will cheer us on...I am sure a Gospel cheerleader would be not a bad idea--especially at the 7:30am service *grin*....

Blessings to your Sunday evening and always.

April 15, 2007 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

Go, go, go...

I love this post!!!

April 16, 2007 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger janiswrites said...

We do have to be our own cheerleader, sometimes, to just keep going. I just try to imagine that God is cheering me on when I am floundering. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

April 16, 2007 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Okay, I have this image of a cheerleader clad in a knee-length pleated choir robe holding little palm-palm fronds. There could be a little squad of them. Like a little choir with sneakers on.

Let me know when you get this in place and I'll come visit your church.

(Go, God!!!)

April 17, 2007 at 4:43 AM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

What a fun image! A Gospel cheerleader!

Those little tasks that further the Kingdom aren't so little when you think of it the way you described. In fact, when one of those youth makes a first time decision for Christ, the sounds of rejoicing *will* be heard throughout the heavenlies. :)

April 17, 2007 at 9:05 PM  

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