Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Forrest Gump – Prophet, Priest, Theologian, Counselor

One of the greatest theologians in the 20th Century seldom gets adequate recognition. Perhaps it’s because he came along so late in the century and is this year a mere twenty years old. Perhaps it’s because he was not educated at the right schools. Perhaps it’s because his relationship with his mother would be considered too close by today’s standards.  

Whatever the reasons, it’s time we recognized his contribution to the church. His wisdom has deeply affected many. His practical take on life has assisted me in the work of pastoring, and more specifically, in the planting of a church.

His name is Forrest Gump and some bible college or seminary should award him an honorary doctorate, because the things he said make more sense than most of the high browed boloney that passes for wisdom today.   

He addresses more theological issues and pastoral questions in a two hour movie, than will be addressed in most four year programs of study – and at a much smaller cost. So for the next few blog posts, we’re going to consider one of the wisest special needs philosophers of all time. And hopefully we will learn something important about the special needs of people from his words.    

One of the first gems to come from the mouth of this genius was this: ““Momma says, “Stupid is as stupid does.”” He uttered it on a school bus when he first met Jenny, his fickle friend for life.

Some will not even like using the word “stupid”, but it’s actually a biblical word.

(Proverbs 12:1 NIV) “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

(Ecclesiastes 10:3 NIV) “Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is.”

(2 Timothy 2:23 NIV) “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

Besides, what better word is there to describe what often goes on in church circles?  

It’s important to grasp the “stupid does” concept, because many of the debacles that occur in church planting are the direct result of planter error. In our pride we can easily have a Proverbs 12:1 moment or an Ecclesiastes 10:3 week. We read something or hear something from our favorite guru and without running it by anyone, we launch out in a new direction. Many times, we even pay for this bad advice. In other words, we behave stupidly -- and the results we get from doing stupid are unsurprisingly, stupid. Stupid is as stupid does.  

Listen, we all have a plan. We all know that planting a church takes hard work. But maybe if we prayed more and performed less, the work would go better and turn out better. Perhaps we could avoid the pain of “stupid is” if we sought more counsel and did less stupid stuff.   

This golden phrase from Bishop Forrest Gump is also a great tool to help us with those inevitable counseling times we pastors tend to get ourselves into. I have a sign in my office that I have pointed to more than once after listening to an hour long litany of self-inflicted pain and chaos which someone wanted me to fix with a prayer or two. It’s a short three word phrase that illuminates a great principle of scripture. The sign simply says, “Stupid Should Hurt.”

You see, sometimes God rescues us from our foolishness. But more often, he lets the pain of foolishness teach us to stop doing stupid stuff. If “stupid” never hurts, we have no incentive to modify foolish behavior. And in the end this failure to modify behavior can damage us or kill us. If we are church planters, it can hinder or even kill the fragile church plant we have been called to nurture.

Sometimes the factual, but unpopular answer, to the questions about why pain comes, is that pain just naturally follows “stupid” around. And getting that answer may well be a blessing, not a curse. It may be a hand up, rather than an insult.  

It’s unfortunate, but very few want to be this blunt when they “speak the truth in love”. That’s unfortunate for two reasons.

First, “Stupid Should Hurt” is the truth about much of what is brought to the counselor’s office today. And if we cannot share the truth, then what do we have to offer besides platitudes? It’s certainly more “loving” than much of the self-serving advice given today.

Second, “Stupid is as Stupid Does” is the best formula for eliminating those long hours of counseling that seem to follow pastors around today -- counsel which almost no one applies after they walk out of your office. When you faithfully deliver the “stupid is as stupid does” and “stupid should hurt” principles, your counseling hours will go way down and you’ll have more time for your family, some of whom might actually listen to you… at least until they turn thirteen.  

And that's all I have to say about that.

Next time we will learn from Forrest regarding the debate surrounding pre-destination and/or free will. Study up.  

Friar Tuck

No comments:

Post a Comment