I Forgot My Superman Costume
It was a tough weekend for me. This past Saturday I officiated the memorial service for a buddy of mine who suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 54. He was more than a buddy to me, he was a good friend. He wasn’t just a good friend, together we were best of friends; we were probably more like family. I didn’t want to speak at his funeral, much less lead it, I just wanted to be there and be with everyone - family, friends and coworkers. I wanted to blend, but the family insisted and I couldn’t say no.
It had been so long since I donned a 2 piece. I wore suits religiously at my former church. Luckily I had purchased some quality shirts and suits back then so they held their shape. Unfortunately the 20lbs I gained over the last few years had me looking more like a stuffed turkey than a well put together preacher! So with my Bible in one hand and my wife in the other we headed off to the funeral home. Upon being given a few instructions by the director, the mantra of sacerdotal duties kicked in and I took to the podium. I was back in my element, my sphere of influence. The place was packed full with standing room only. I wasn’t nervous or intimidated, but rather hoping I crossed all my t’s and dotted all my I’s. As I opened the service, I quickly realized something was different.
I wasn’t the same.
Somewhere in the preparation process I had forgotten my Superman uniform. (I think I used to refer to it as the anointing). At my former pastorate, before I walked out to minister I always transitioned from Clark Kent into a pastoral superhero by the time I took the pulpit. It was my element. It was who I was, or at least who I thought I was. This time there was no such transformation. From the first sentence on I stumbled over my words even though I had my notes in front of me. My voice was disturbingly shaken. For a brief moment I felt incredibly unprepared and lacked any confidence I had grown so used to having when called upon. This was my dear friend and this was hard. But more than that, it felt as though my anointing was gone. Lock me up and write Ichabod on my doorstep! Obviously I didn’t spend enough time in prayer on this one. My mind was reeling. I left my roadmap of notes and began free falling into verbal oblivion. This was not going to turn out well for me. Struggling, I finished my opening and prayer and introduced the vocalist. Relieved I took my seat behind the podium.
“God help me”, I whispered in prayer.
Calmly and gently the Holy Spirit replied, “I want you to be real. That’s who I anoint”. I guess part of me has always believed that everything ministry should come off polished. However real ministry is anything but. Somewhere over the last 3 years my role of being Superman ended. It was time to be me. No performance necessary. I could do that. My wife says I’m at my best when I do that. I glanced over at Andria only to find her looking straight at me, smiling. It was that reassuring smile. She loves me for who I am, no superhero necessary. It was time to be plain old me. As my turn to speak came, I returned to the podium with a newfound confidence and fresh anointing. I rehearsed stories of my dear friend and about the greatest Friend of all that gave His life for His friends. Hearts began mending.
Wouldn’t it be great that if in every setting we could always be comfortable in our own skin? Oh how all too often we end up donning our superhero costumes just to survive at work or social settings. Unfortunately in today’s world you can’t make it unless you fake it. None of which means anything to God. God is looking for the real. We can’t be afraid of being real. Imagine what our churches would look like if we were open to sharing who we really are. I think great things would happen.
James 5:16 (New Century Version)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.