Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Wise Mentor's Advice

In a recent radio interview Ted Danson said that Kelsey Grammer gave him career-changing advice when they worked together on the set of the long-running TV comedy series, Cheers. Grammer's advice was that "an actor should have a requisite disrespect for the material" (by which he meant, the script), and he should not appear "too eager," or be perceived as "leaning forward." Danson says that, in retrospect, he probably came across as "too eager" and "tilting too far forward," as the series began. However, as he took this wise mentor's advice to heart, Danson was able relax and enjoy the process of creating with his fellow actors; he now had nothing to prove. He also believes that, because of this advice, he was able to give his character, Sam Malone, an air of confidence that seemed to endear the audience too the show. As a result Cheers became one of the longest running TV comedy series of all time.

In the gospels, Jesus seems to have the kind of confidence that Danson describes. (Is it sacrilegious to compare Sam Malone to Jesus? Maybe.) Religious leaders constantly brought accusations against Jesus' authenticity. His answer always seemed confident, not too eager; as if to say, "Here is the truth; take it or leave it." The poor, sick and needy sought Jesus out, hoping to receive what he had to offer. He neither turned them away nor eagerly waited on them hand and foot, but gave what he had and directed them toward the truth. When Jesus encountered those who needed truth, he always shared it; but, he didn't beg them to accept it.

The Apostle John describes Jesus' approach in the opening lines of his gospel:

11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...
--John 1:11-12, NIV
Jesus simply shared the truth of who he was. He was confident in that truth. Those who accepted this truth were accepted. But, he didn't cater to those who rejected the truth. He was cool, collected and confident. He had a "requisite disrespect" for the script that people had written for him.

As disciples of Jesus, we ought to imitate our Mentor's approach. We ought to have a requisite respect for the Word of God, but a requisite disregard (disrespect may be too strong of a word) for the script others have written for us. We ought to be confident in the truth that we have been called children of God on the basis of our belief in the truth of who Jesus is, and eagerly invite others to receive Jesus as well. But, we are not actors. We are not role playing. And, we ought not to convey that this is the case, by "leaning too far forward" as we share the truth. Play it cool. Be authentic. Be confident. Relax and enjoy the process of leading others to Christ.

A wise mentor gave his disciples some career-changing advice one day. Jesus' advice was that his disciples ought to wipe the dust off of their feet when they left a town that did not listen to the truth of who Jesus was (Matthew 10:14). In other words, they ought to be confident, sharing the truth with those who will listen, and not catering to those who won't. As a result, Christianity has thrived for over 2,000 years.

At Safeharbor last Sunday, we were encouraged to share the "good news" about Jesus with those who might not know it, or to invite a coworker to a Safeharbor Connection Group. Perhaps you are intimidated by such a task. Learn from your mentor, Jesus. Play it cool, stop acting and just be who you are—a child of God.


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