Being the new person can be tough.
I went to a large public school (I hope I spelled that right) from kindergarten until fifth grade. Then, I transferred to a small Catholic school complete with uniforms, nuns and what I thought was purgatory lasting from the fifth through seventh grade. My first week at the Catholic school was rough, since the only kid who really spoke to me was a fellow altar boy I got in a fight with after he hit me in the head with a rock. In his defense, I do have a big head so throwing a rock in any direction came with the inherent risk of finding my Shrek sized melon according to the Vegas over-under.
When I transferred back to a larger public school in eighth grade, I again felt like we were playing musical chairs and I did not get a chair once the music stopped. I had to take the dreaded school bus with total strangers. This included the hard edge kids who liked to wear all black, listen to depressing music, and smoke cigarettes because sadly their daddy never hugged them, thereby making them arty.
Also, getting between classes at the ginormous public school was tough. I did not know my way around, had no one to ask, and was as bewildered as Uncle Si doing Sudoku. Worst of all was lunch because I didn’t know anyone. It felt like an eternity as I sat all alone in silence, much like a devout Milwaukee Bucks fan at a game.
Being a newbie once again
Thankfully, as I got older things changed. For the past few decades, I had no idea what it was like to be the new person. Residing in the city where I grew up, attending the church that started in our living room, living near extended family, and having many longstanding relationships meant I had not felt like the newbie until recently. Now, the family and I are in the city of Phoenix, meeting new people, going to new schools, and visiting new churches. I cannot find anything without Siri telling me where to go, but I am becoming very skilled at U-turns. Also, the kids are the newbies at school, so we are navigating that experience with them as well.
More than ever, this makes me thankful for those people who practice hospitality. Since our move to Phoenix, we’ve had a lot of pastors and their families extend a hand of friendship, which has been very encouraging. Our experience has also made us more grateful than ever for those people who, as Romans 12:13 says, “seek to show hospitality.”
Whereas fellowship is enjoying time with people you know, hospitality is inviting people you don’t yet know into your life. Being the outsider, it’s nice to be invited in. Being new, it’s nice to have somebody be your buddy.
How about you?
Who has walked in to your life to extend a hand of friendship just around the time you were tired of playing solitaire yet again? Who has God placed in front of you that could benefit from you pursuing them to help alleviate their loneliness?
For those reading this who practice hospitality, I want to assure you that your ministry is a tremendous gift. In an increasingly mobile and fragmented culture, many people find themselves living and working away from family and friends. Those of you who keep your eyes and life open to seek out new people and help them connect with other people are a great gift. More than ever, we are grateful for God’s people who have welcomed us, and the God who entered into history to pursue us for friendship and invite us to dinner at his Kingdom home.
I’m honored to be teaching in Phoenix and Anchorage this week. If you are a ministry leader in the Phoenix area feel free to join us for a training event this Thursday. I want to thank Pastor Mark for inviting me to teach. And, if you live near Anchorage you are welcome to join us this Saturday or Sunday for a service at Muldoon Community Assembly Church. Thank you Pastor Kent for inviting me to preach. Details for both events are here.
Ecclesiastes Part 5
Lastly, today Ecclesiastes called “Meaningless Life? Part 5, Flip Flops in the Snow: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, is available. My hope is to spend some months taking a road trip, verse by verse, together through this winding and confusing book. This will include an informal audio podcast, blog based Bible commentary, and small group questions.
Pastor Mark Driscoll