Last week, I was invited to participate in Career Day for Fourth Graders at Old Town Elementary.
The format was a rotating around 5 classrooms with 10 minutes in each class. Being a Pastor, I found was going to be a challenge. I knew I needed to offer a description of what I do in a way that was relevant, interesting and honoring to the setting; a public school… My oldest son’s public school!
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. [Colossians 4:5]
I structured my talk around 3 basic skills that I use a pastor and included some visual illustrations to make it easier to follow along. As a Pastor, my job is to LEARN, LISTEN and LEAD.
NOTE: Although public speaking is a regular practice for me, I have to admit one thing: I get nervous speaking in front of kids. In fact, there is a sweat gland in my lower back that ONLY ever excretes when I'm speaking in front of a group of kids—it fires off at no other time!
I went into the first class (not yet my sons, THANK YOU LORD!) and worked through my share and was thankful that my jokes caught them as funny plus they asked questions at the end (a good sign!).
“Okay.” I thought heading into classroom #2, “maybe this won’t be so bad after all.”
Too bad though that I was rotating with 4 other guests and had to follow behind the Army Sergeant who brought with him a footlocker FULL of cool looking Army caps and t-shirts, which he was giving away to EVERY student! So I walked into class #2. Looked at them all with those caps and shirts and my lower back sweat gland going into overdrive because I don’t have schwag!
“Hello there! I am a Pastor. How many of you know what that is?” Surprisingly (and sadly), barely 20% were familiar with the word. I was immediately moved to compassion and reminded of what Jesus thought when he observed, “They are like sheep without a shepherd.”
Works on a farm; like a pasture
Runs faster than girls; “I run past her.” *
Works in a church and teaches people about God.
*Hey, don’t groan at me… It got the laugh!
A PASTOR LEARNS:
By Learning, I talked about how I switched from TV news to going to graduate school (seminary) where I had to read a lot of books—especially boring books. “How many of you like to read?” Lots of hands. “How many of you like to read boring books?” Surprisingly a few hands! One boy said, “Those are the books where I learn the most.”
I do read a lot. I read boring books, thick books, old books, books that smell funny… I read books—like the Bible—that are written in other languages; languages that aren’t even used anymore. “Ooooo!”
So I proceeded to teach them some ancient Greek.
“What letters do you see here?” I asked.
“Uh… A… Y… A… R?… and E.”
“What word with that be,” I asked.
The sounds they made cooled off my lower back sweat. Funny stuff!
I shared how the Greek letters are different. Alpha is A. Gamma, looks like a Y but is a G. Alpha again, then Pi which makes a P sound (good thing this wasn’t middle school, I’d have lost them on that one!), then the Epsilon looks like E but makes an A sound. Put it all together and you have… “Ah-gahp-eh.” Which was a great word to put in their mouths!
The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philiais used. Nor does agape mean “charity,” a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.
Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself.
The apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love.
I said, “Agape means love. But do you know that we basically have one word for love that we use for everything? Maybe today, you’ll say, I LOVE that Pastor Simon guy! And, I lasagne for lunch. Tonight hopefully, I love you Mom. We use the same word love for lots of stuff. In the Bible, there are 4 words that we can translate love, but each one means something a different.”
I shared how my job is to LEARN about the meanings of those important words and then I get to SHARE what I’m learning with friends on Sunday at church. So one part of my job is about LEARNING and SHARING the things that I’m learning with my friends.
I made sure to mention that I don’t share what I’ve learned… but what I am learning. Because there’s always more to learn with God so I never feel like I’ll ever be done learning-which is very exciting.
At least for a moment, my lower back was starting to cool off…
NEXT POST: “A PASTOR LISTENS“