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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014
The RingmasterPosted Thursday, February 18, 2010, at 5:36 PM
In recent days I've had several people comment on my "unusual" approach to public ministry.
I've responded by describing myself with a spiritual symbol.
Ever been to a circus? I love the old traditional three-ring circus of the past.
There is always a central character called The Ring Master.
Usually a male, he'll begin the show by welcoming one and all. He'll then steer the crowd's attention to one of the rings where a performance will take place. The house lights will go down and the spotlights will focus on that specific area under The Big Top. With that performance complete, The Ring Master will once again be the center of attention until another performance in another ring begins.
The audience's attention is so focused that few are even aware of the changes going on in the other rings in preparation for the minutes ahead. Back and forth The Ring Master will steer the crowd, and if something hasn't gone according to schedule it is The Ring Master's responsibility to keep that from being known by the happy and satisfied crowd.
Likewise, if there is an accident of some kind, it is the responsibility of The Ring Master to steer the crowd's attention away from the serious and back to an entertaining performance.
Once the performances are finished, The Ring Master reminds the audience of all the fun they've had and bids them farewell until the next time the circus comes to town.
While in seminary a professor invited us to identify three symbols that would describe our ministries. The symbol of The Ring Master is one of mine.
I like to help others identify the talents and gifts they have. I like to assist others in developing and "training" those talents and gifts. And, it is very rewarding to me to place people in settings where they can rise to the occasion and "perform" well.
Being The Ring Master has its drawbacks. You have to always be "on" and prepared for the unexpected. You become foundational for others to be seen and appreciated while rarely having that opportunity for yourself. And, if someone in the audience is unhappy, The Ring Master will be the one to receive such negative reaction, not the performer.
For me, the positive outweighs the drawbacks.
Are there spiritual symbols that describe you? When searching for such, remember that each spiritual symbol describes just one aspect of your way of relating to others and the world. Many of us have a tendency to discount ourselves or view ourselves in a negative fashion; that won't work when finding spiritual symbols for yourself! These need to be positive.
And, may you have the opportunity of others choosing spiritual symbols for describing aspects of your life and faith. Indeed, during the next week, I hope several friends and co-workers will uplift you by giving you gifts that reflect spiritual symbols that describe you.
P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.