Sunday, April 22, 2012


     Here's a personal story, hopefully the kind your dad wants me to share with you.  When I was seventeen years old, I became convinced that I had had a "conversion experience."  I had been "saved."  As a result, I decided that I had a calling to become a minister and began college studies to reach this goal.  After I had been in school for a couple of years, when it was time for the minister of our church to take his annual vacation, it was suggested that I take over the pulpit for the three weeks he would be gone.  I was nineteen or twenty years old and too dumb to know better, so I accepted.  I don't remember the subjects of the three sermons that I preached, only that they were more notable for their brevity than their flair.  Thanks to "Speech 101" I did manage to get through it.
     The low point of the whole experience came on the second Sunday.  Part of the service was the recitation, in unison, by the entire congregation, of the Lord's Prayer.  Somehow, I failed to give, or the congregation failed to get, the signal that we had reached that part of the service.  I began saying, "Our Father..." and had said only a few words when I realized that no one was joining in.  Instead of doing the wise thing, stopping, and then instructing them to join in as I started over, I just blundered on ahead.  Then it happened.  I forgot the words!  My mind went blank and I couldn't remember the prayer I had been taught to recite as soon as I could talk.  After a few seconds that seemed like a week and a half, one of the congregants realized my plight and supplied the next phrase.  The rest of the people came in at this point and the service proceeded without further difficulties.  It's a story that I find funny today, but in that moment I learned the true definition of the word mortified.
     It was at the end of the third service that the high point of my experience as a preacher came.  I was standing at the door of the church shaking hands with the members of the congregation, accepting their thanks for filling in and feeling relieved that I had survived.  One of the last to leave was a little old lady who took my hand in both of hers, looked up at me and said with complete sincerity, "You done real good."  Other people that day also offered praise, and it is possibly her colloquial grammar that has made the moment stick with me, but I remember her words as the most heart felt compliment I have ever received.  To this day, when I want to offer the highest praise I can to someone, I use that fractured phrase, "You done real good."
     If there is a piece of wisdom to be derived from this anecdote (other than have the words to the Lord's Prayer written out if you're going to lead the prayer) it is this;  if you have the opportunity to offer praise to someone, do it.  Don't qualify it or limit it "that was good but..." or "not bad for a..." just do it.  You may give someone a moment they will treasure for the rest of their life.


1 comment:

  1. Whoa!

    I will keep that in mind.... Thank you :)