What I Am Learning
Back in the day, Kevin Costner, was in a movie called, Dances with Wolves. Sound pretty terrifying. Seeing a wolf in person near Waupaca brought some sweat to my palms. But today, I want to tackle Dancing with Porcupines. Porcupiney people are the people who will poke you, provoke you, and persistently prod you. Frequently these people come into our circle bearing their prickly problems. God brings these people into our lives, and we do life together. We do ministry together. We enter the dance together. If you are a balloon animal dog, who prickly porcupiney people easily deflate, you have to figure out how to navigate life and ministry with them.
Kids ministry has its share of dancing with porcupines. It can be kids, leaders, parents, pastors, community leaders, SELF. You name it, it can be a porcupine.
So how do we go BOLDLY into this dance?
- PRAY - First, be prayerful. Pray for those who either innocently are prickly or are purposefully prickly. God knows that often we need to know what they are feeling and why they may be challenging to deal with. God has the key. We need to ask Him. "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Matt 5:44)
- Raise a Shield of Faith - We don't always know when and where the enemy will use a prickly person or situation to bring an attack towards us or our ministry. The scripture tells us to raise the shield of faith to quench the enemy's fiery darts. We need to put on this shield daily. When the porcupine quills are flying, we need to get ready and not off our guard. Ephesians 6:16
- Look, Listen, Learn - You have heard of stop, drop and roll when you see you are on fire. When the quills of a prickly porcupiney person are in your vicinity, you need to look, listen, learn. First, look at yourself. Maybe there is something that God wants to teach you. Perhaps you are missing something that God needs to use a prickly person to get your attention. Perhaps you need to look at the log in your eye before looking at the quill-covered person across from you. Also, look and see the person who has the quills is not the enemy. They are a human, made in the image of God. Next, Listen. Maybe the thing they are saying to you while painful is necessary and needed. Finally, we need to learn. We need to learn how to embrace prickly porcupiney people and not be deflated or deterred by them. We can learn how to work with people sometimes because we emphasize with them.
- Pick Your Place - Just because someone wants to air out their frustration doesn't mean NOW is the time or place. You want to pick a time and a site that isn't a disturbance to your ongoing ministry. Being met in the hallway can blow up, and you had no idea. Set up appointments. You can give your full attention, and you don't have to be on your way to another situation.
- Be Duck-Like - Like a duck, let the water pore off your back. Be calm and in control of the situation. Don't let the person get you off into an area that the Holy Spirit isn't in control. Be self-controlled. Don't get angry, defensive, or hurt. Let it roll. Persistently Prickly People sometimes like to see a response that brings you down to their level. Don't let them do that. Know your healthy boundaries. If you need a break, take one. If counting to ten doesn't work, count to one hundred.
- Be a Future/Forward Thinker - Look at how you can make the most of the situation. See a solution in the future. Embrace that solution. Help your porcupine partner to envision a future where you can not only work together but have great success. The scripture tells us to forget what is behind and press on ahead. (Philippians 3:13)
- Walk with Love and Wisdom - Even if the prickly person doesn't shed their quills, we still love them. We may need to steer clear, but we can do that in love. We can love people despite their faults. We can even work with prickly people. However, there does come a time when wisdom tells you to steer clear. Stay away from those things that continue to bring harm. Paul was clear to warn Titus about a divisive person. He said, "Warn a divisive person once and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them." (Titus 3:10). Paul also warned Timothy of Alexander, the metalworker who did him great harm (2 Timothy, 4:13-15)
Dancing with porcupines is an art. It is a spiritual art. We need to see the God-given worth of each human, empathize with their weaknesses and faults, and boldly embrace the challenge to make all of us into the glorious church Christ envisions. After all, we will spend eternity with many of the folks who were prickly porcupines here on earth.
This is not an exhaustive list but a start. Maybe you are a porcupine whisperer and can give us more insight.
What I'm Looking Forward To
- Girls Ministries Inspire Conference - October 15-16 in Marinette, WI. We have our National Girls Ministries and Children's Discipleship Director speaking for us. Even if you don't presently have girls ministries you can learn so much from this lady. Check it out. https://winmgirls.org/inspire/
- Kidmin Retreat - November 5, 6 - Marshfield, WI. We have Patti Chapman coming to be with us. Patti is a kids pastor from Illinois. She has served in our National Kidmin office and is a great leader and teacher. You will like her. Besides that, we are going to have fun and prayer and encourage and learn from one another. There is still time to sign up. https://wnmdkids.org/kidmin-retreat/