It was an embarrassing moment as a young minister.
Charlotte and I had been living in Abilene while I finished seminary. I had just completed my studies and moved to north Alabama where I began preaching for a church. Now, I was a full-time minister for a congregation.
I was overwhelmed and had no idea what to do. So, I began doing what many young ministers do: I watched several experienced ministers to learn how to do this work.
One preacher I had been watching seemed to put a lot of energy into welcoming guests. He was at the large urban church near where I grew up. Some hotels get four and five stars for a rating. This church would probably rate five stars in somebody’s review. People in my circle talked about this church as if they were the group that seemed to do most things right.
I did notice that they seemed to do things smoothly, unlike me. I handled things awkwardly at times.
One of my first Sundays I introduced a new family and asked them stand. After all, I had seen the minister at this church do the same. I then moved on to introduce another new family. Upon introducing them I asked them to stand. The couple stood, but I noticed the man had a puzzled look.
“Jim, I’ve been a member of this church for a number of years.”
I froze. I wanted to hide.
Then, I said something stupid like welcome, blah, blah, blah.
(Great, now I’ve said something else stupid. I really wanted to hide now.)
That was the last Sunday I attempted to introduce people like that.
The amazing thing is that no one – not a single person – made a big deal out of my blunder. The congregation didn’t. The elders didn’t. In fact, there wasn’t any teasing. I am convinced these people didn’t want that moment to discourage me.
Now, almost 30 years later, I continue to make blunders (though not that one). Yet, I’ve never forgotten that moment of grace by those people.
Consider the people you are with today. Your family. Co-workers. The lady at the bank. If they are human, they will make mistakes.
What if I didn’t roll my eyes.
What if I didn’t roll my eyes behind my eyes. (Thank you, Margaret Marcuson, for this image.)
What if I simply showed grace.
Can you think of times when you blundered and someone showed you grace?