Last week, I was driving my wife's SUV when the center console that is affixed to the ceiling came apart and dangled down, almost obstructing my driving! With one hand on the wheel and the other trying to put it back in place (while driving), I quickly realized it wasn't going to work. After pulling over and placing the car in park, I noticed that it was broken and that my Duck Dynasty duct tape couldn’t fix the problem.
My friend Butch, who owns a local car dealership and is also a devout Christian, told me to bring it in to have it looked at. I prayed that it wouldn’t cost too much to fix because even though I am an evangelist who preaches occasionally on television, I don’t have the finances of a televangelist. When I got to the dealership, Butch’s brother took a look at the car and said that the part would have to be replaced. When I first heard the price for the part, my heart dropped and I thought, "All that money for a part that you cannot even see!" He then reminded me that without the invisible part doing its job, the visible part would fail and couldn’t look good!
The price of that part was a priceless lesson from the Holy Spirit. Those of us blessed to be in ministry are often visible on some type of platform or stage. For years, I have tried to seek out the un-lovely or un-popular and also those who serve "under the radar."
Several years ago, I was invited to be a guest on Total Christian Television (TCT) in Marion, Ill, the third largest Christian television network in the world. One thing I learned during my years in politics is to reach out to everyone. Regardless if they could vote or had a voice, everyone has value. I worked for a congressman who could work the crowd better than almost everyone. During my four years working for him, I also served a stint of just under a year as his full-time driver. Everyday, I would drive to his home and then get in his car and drive him to Capitol Hill and wherever he needed to go, sometimes even to the White House.
Daily, I watched him carefully and noticed that he not only shook hands and made eye contact while speaking to the powerful and popular, but also the poor. It’s impossible to be relational if you aren't willing to be intentional. The Congressman would be with the provost of a university one moment and the janitor the next, yet made both feel important.
I try to picture not only Jesus in me, also but God going before me. I picture Him connecting with each person and follow His footsteps. With that image of Christ in my head (and heart), I try to love on folks before, during and after ministering. Personally, I believe how we act off stage says more than when we are on.
As I walked onto the studio set, I began to recall my days with the Congressman and I was fully aware of Christ. At that moment, I began to say "hi" to people en route to sitting on the Oprah-like couch. As the producers were doing their last checks before going live, I said a silent prayer that God would use the interview for His glory. During the interview, God moved and it was an honor to watch Him work.
When it was over, I intentionally said goodbye to everyone from the makeup artist to the producer. Before leaving the studio, I also connected with the janitors to encourage them and thank them for their ministry. Heading towards the door, I spotted an African-American camerawoman wearing a headset and approached her.
As she was taking off her headset, I reached out to thank her when I noticed tears streaming down her face. She asked if I could step outside in the hallway to talk, which I agreed to. At that time, I thought perhaps the Holy Spirit said something through me that ministered to her or she wanted me to elaborate on a subject. However, what she said I would take to my grave.
With tears running down her face she said, "Evangelist Shelton, I have been working on this set for a decade and it's been my honor to run this camera behind the scenes. However, I want to let you know that we have had some of the most respected and recognized names and ministers in America on this very set.” She sniffled and struggled to speak while she wiped away the tears looked at me in my eyes and said, "I want to thank you personally because you were the only one to ever thank me for my ministry." At that moment, we both were crying! She was "behind the scenes" so others could be on the scenes, yet too many were busy ministering that they forgot to minister to fellow ministers on the way.
This week, I was reminded of that car part in my wife's SUV. I complained that it was expensive (even though you couldn't see it), but God reminded me of three things:
1. Many who are first will be last
2. To whom much is given, much is required
3. Thank especially those behind the scenes because they are in the ministry too and quite frankly, God uses them to hold much of us in place. If they didn't do their job privately some couldn't do their assignment publicly.
Today, be on the look out to compliment and encourage. It's free to be like Jesus, but it’s costly to be a jerk.