Tomorrow, I’m going to spend an awful lot of time perched on a particularly uncomfortable seat, hoping against hope that the people in front of me have more accuracy issues than the National Enquirer. I’m going to sit there, thinking about the water beneath me, and the people before me, and ask myself if risking hypothermia is really worth the effort.
And I’m going to conclude, at the end of the day, that yes. Yes it was.
See, tomorrow is Grayson Day and my big idea for my church’s festival booth was to have a Dunk Tank. And naturally, I volunteered to be the first one it, mainly because I’m an idiot, but also because I believe it’s good leadership and even better witness.
Allow me to explain.
I’ve been reading a lot about leadership lately. What it means. What it looks like. Why it inspires. How it best functions. And in almost every single book that I’ve read, be it the Bible or any of the 100 billion books in print, one constant principle emerges: a leader has to be willing to go first. Get his hands dirty. Show his people that the vision and the price are worth the effort. It’s an inescapable reality.
Being a youth pastor, I lead (or try to lead) a group of students who are more than willing (most days) to do just about anything I ask. Part of the reason is that they are good kids; but I’d like to think that some of it has to do with the fact that I’m willing to do these things with them. I don’t just order them to go and do something and then sit back and sip on a cold Coke. I try my best to get into the muck and mire and messiness of life and show them that what I teach, I live by.
And if that means that my boxers get soaked to the point that I have a perpetual wedgie for a day and a half, so be it.
Because if that’s what it takes to inspire a group of kids to serve, to think of others ahead of themselves, to live as Jesus lived (though, to be honest, his sacrifice is LOT more majestic), then I’m willing to embrace one of the most confounding teachings of Christ: that if we want to lead, we must first serve.
However, that’s not the only reason I’m doing this.
The thought didn’t occur to me until I was doing some reading last night for a sermon I’m preaching on May 6th (6 PM if you’re interested): the dunk tank isn’t just for those wanting to have a good time. It’s for anyone with a gripe against God.
Now, before that gets conflated beyond all reason, let me tell you a story, one that I found moving. It comes from a book called Blue Like Jazz, by a man named Donald Miller. Miller tells how he and some Christian friends set up a confessional booth during a festival at Reed College, and then dressed up like monks and priests and manned the confessional throughout the entire party. The twist was, that when other people came into the confessional, it was the Christians who confessed – to those historical errors on the part of the church.
Miller recounts that it was a life-changing night for him. And for many on the campus.
I’m not suggesting that a Dunk Tank will be as moving, especially since we’re not requiring anyone to say anything. We’re not gonna put up posters saying, “Take Out Your Anger At Christians Here!” In fact, beyond this blog post, it’s not going to be mentioned at all. As far as I’ll know, you’ll simply want to see a moron go splash or test your throwing arm.
But if you, as an individual, have ever wanted the opportunity to let out your grievances against religion, or God, or heck, me personally, this is the opportunity. All you have to do is wind up and let it go.
Will there be people who find this idea offensive? Certainly. Will there be people who think that I’ve lost my mind? Yup.
Come on out to Grayson Day tomorrow and enjoy yourself. Our booth will be located near Rosebud Road, just next to the storm drain. We’ll have facepainting and giveaways, and you won’t be able to miss me (or one of my students) sitting in the Dunk Tank. Come by, take a couple of tosses, and enjoy the day. And if you somehow find yourself walking away with a different mindset, so be it. We’re just happy to serve.
Even to the point of wearing soggy drawers.