The other day I was standing in the checkout lane at our neighborhood grocery store, waiting to pay while the checker scanned a few things. After her initial (grunted) “hello,” she paid no attention to me. Instead, she talked with a co-worker about how sick of her job she was, and how she wished she could move from a “regular” lane to the self-check lanes so she wouldn’t have to interact with people.
People like me…
I was about 18 inches away from this interchange, but I felt invisible. And this was not a new feeling—I’ve noticed that at many retail outlets the employees often seem to forget about the customer who’s a few inches away. They live in a bubble that “sees” only other employees, because (it’s inferred) those are the people they’re most interested in building connection with.
They are home-blind. And we who are in ministry are also-often home-blind.
Home-blind people have lost their sense of the “other”—they’ve become so acclimated to their persistent reality that they literally don’t see what is obvious to others. The effect is to push people away—to make them feel invisible. And that’s a poison-pill for relationships, killing any access to our heart and to potential community. The reverse of home-blindness is also powerfully true: simply, we’re drawn to places and to people who “see” us—who not only don’t treat us as if we’re invisible, but accentuate the clouded beauty of who we really are. In short, the feeling of being seen and enjoyed for our embedded “self” is likely the most powerful magnet in the universe.
And home-blindness negates that magnet—big-time.
So, here’s a sampler list of ways we’re often home-blind in youth ministry. Use whatever is convicting on this list as a merciful wake-up call to re-engage our heart and creativity as we serve…
• We’ve spent so many years “dialing in” what we believe that we’re repelled by the doubts of others, and feel lost in responding to them. So we attack those doubts or functionally ignore them instead of inviting conversation around them.
• We’re so weary of putting our best stuff out there for kids to consume, then sensing that our “best stuff” is making little impact, that we allow a jaded attitude to infiltrate all of our interactions with them.
• We’re so tired of the mess and chaos and mystery of youth ministry that we place “right behavior” above “unconditional welcome.”
• We’ve been reading and studying the Bible for so long that we forget that the lingo we’ve developed to describe biblical truth (“saved” or “Holy Ghost” or “armor of God” or “spiritual warfare,” for example) sounds ridiculous and off-putting to the uninitiated.
• We equate cultural and aesthetic differences with sin, and default to shortcut labels in the way we relate to those differences.
• We’ve been following Jesus so long that we think we already know everything there is to know about Him, so we stop exploring Him in favor of topics that are of more interest to us. This, even though every survey project we’ve done in the last five years that targets what kids want from church lists “more about Jesus” as the top vote-getter.
I’m sure there are many, many other examples of home-blindness we could add to this list—and please do. Add your own examples in the comments section, and Tweet or post this link so others can weigh-in. Let’s stir up the “sleeping giant” inside our own soul and be awake to our own blindness.
Jesus came to give sight to the blind—and all of us qualify for that gift…
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