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- re-Branding on Momentum
There is a charming little fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a princess and a pea. Hang with me for a moment as I tie it into our lives in ministry. As the story goes, the Queen is searching for a bride for her son and many a young lady have shown themselves willing to oblige. A slew of candidates parade by claiming to be the future princess. In a test to find the "true princess" for her son, the queen mother takes the opportunity to place a small pea beneath 20 mattresses while a potential princess sleeps over on a rainy night.
As the story goes, the young woman is so discomforted by the pea that she is unable to sleep and claims to be bruised from this offensive object (that she feels through 20 feather mattresses). Alas, the queen determines that she has found her future daughter-n-law. After all, only the true princess could have been so sensitive to this ever-so-slight of an inconvenience.
When you first read this it seems charming and harmless enough, doesn't it? The princess was found--hurrah! Look a little closer. While scholars have argued over its premise, I personally see it as a mockery. Who but a "princess" could be affected so greatly by such the slightest bit of discomfort? Only a "princess" must have it so perfect. "Princess" cannot tolerate anything imperfect. In reality, this story is an indictment upon the princess. Think about it.
For church leaders, there are three princesses that you might have to learn to handle--each of them are dealt with in a very different way.
For one, many of those in your community are princesses by nature. Many live privileged lives and have high standards. They expect a certain level of communication and perhaps are finicky about how things are done. In order to get on their radar, they require you to speak their language and show that you value what they value. As a minister, these are those we pursue. He expects us to be like wise fishermen--understanding their often "princess-like" nature. After all, we have to remember that the nature of man is to "look on the outside" (1 Sam 16:7). Considering that they might look at things differently can only help us connect with them more effectively.
The second place we find the princess mentality is within the church. How many times have huge, healthy ministry initiatives been thwarted because they did not sit well with those who wanted it their way? As believers, its often easy to assume that non-believers would be self-centered (as is human nature), but we do not expect it in the church. Well, its in there. Many church leaders will tell you that they do not have problems with the non-Christians, its the finicky church people that keep them wound in a knot. The only way to deal with it is to teach it and challenge it out of the flock; such as how Paul taught us to be content in all things (Phil 4:6-11). He certainly was no princess.
The third place it is found is within us. It is important to realize that the various standards and conveniences of our culture tempt us all to succumb to a mentality that life should be without discomforts. We all can find ourselves becoming the spoiled "princesses." We especially find them within within ourselves in the areas where we cannot let the little things go. Let us never lose sight of the fact that God shapes us through challenges. Discomfort--the thorn in our flesh--is often a valuable assistant to guiding us into dependence and focus on Him.
Here's the irony... that while we must avoid being princesses, the object of our ministry pursuit is often just that--and we would be wise to realize it. For God, He is on a relentless pursuit to pull off the impossible... turning the self-centered nature of a princess into the heart of a benevolent King. Certainly that is what He is attempting to do with us.