By DANNY MINTON
A nine-year-old kid is sitting at his desk, and suddenly, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out, he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.
The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, ‘Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now, I’m dead meat.’ He looks up from his prayer, and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.
As the teacher walks toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap. The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, ‘Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!’
Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees, cleaning up around his desk. Sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie.
She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. You’ve done enough, you klutz!’
Finally, as they are waiting for the bus at the end of the day, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, ‘You did that on purpose, didn’t you?’ Susie whispers back, ‘I wet my pants once too.’ (Author Unknown)
I came across this story several years ago in an email sent to me by a cousin. As we contemplate this story, several lessons grab our hearts. First, how often have we found ourselves in a situation that we wish we weren’t and didn’t know how to solve gracefully? We’ve probably all been there, and it pains us even to remember those embarrassing moments in life that everyone else has forgotten years ago.
This thought leads us to a second lesson that merits deep contemplation in the way we deal with others. When we see someone struggling with a dilemma in their life, are we one that will criticize them, or are we someone who will be there to help them graciously overcome their situation?
I believe it’s essential that we learn to put ourselves in their shoes and ask ourselves how we would want others to react to us in the same situation. The thing that Jesus did was put himself in the other person’s place and then act accordingly. I think of the four men who lowered their friend from the roof. I’m sure many in the crowd were appalled at what took place, especially the man who owned the house. Jesus, on the other hand, did not scold or reprimand. I think he saw this man who wanted to be healed and was willing to do whatever it took.
Everywhere he turned, he helped people, mostly with no questions asked. He didn’t ridicule them for the situations in which they found themselves. He didn’t demean them before healing them. His eyes were always full of compassion for those who were amid a struggling need.
It’s easy to forget the road we traveled to get where we are as Christians. It’s easy to forget the times that we wished there was someone to pour water all over us to help us out of a heartbreaking situation. It’s easy to forget that hopeless, lost feeling we had had at times, times when we wanted to “crawl into a hole” and hide.
An understanding heart goes much further in dealing with people than harsh criticism. Leaders help their flock through their problems when others only want to destroy their character. Christian leaders are there to build up, not destroy, even when it means others may look down on us.
Remember, we were once there, sitting in a world where we needed someone to show mercy on us and pour water on us before others destroyed us. In our dealings with people, let us never forget those times that we needed a friend to lift us in the face of our enemies.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ