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.)