Saturday, May 17, 2008

What the barber taught me accidentally.

What the barber taught me accidentally.

I am not fancy. You might think I am, but I am not. I shop the clearance section of Marshall's, eat 97 cent Totino's pizzas and get my haircut at "Fan Favorites." That's not really the name of the store but in order to share what I am about to share, I needed to switch it up a little.

Things are kind of crazy right now. Some cool stuff is happening on the book end. Some really awesome, smart people are asking me for advice. Some opportunities I have always dreamed about are opening up. But, amidst all of that, is the temptation to get drunk on the idea of doing something "big."

I will undoubtedly share this on stuff christians like someday (and feel like I have written about this idea before), but for you faithful few, here is the idea I am talking about. I often think that in order for my faith to "count," I have to do something "big" for God. I have to change the world. I have to win a whole country to Him. I have to shake the very foundation of the earth with what I am able to accomplish.

The problem is, when you think that way, you start to define your faith and your life and your worth that way. If no one ever reads my blogs again, then I am not a good Christian. If the book does not get published, I have failed God. If I don't ever speak at the Catalyst Conference, then this was all a waste.

But recently, a barber at Fan Favorites changed that for me.

Fan Favorites is one of those sports-themed places where 98 televisions are blaring ESPN and there are sports posters all over the place. The other day I went in and the woman cutting my hair started to tell me about her life. In a matter of minutes, she told me that her husband of 30 years had left her 6 weeks ago. The pain and hurt in her was palpable and although I certainly didn't push, she continued to share. From a voice that sounded gray, if that's possible, she told me about how things fell apart. She told me the sadness. She told me the regret.

When she was done, I told her the best marriage truth I had ever heard:
The one thing men want above all is to know that they are enough. That their masculinity, their power, their value, their strength is enough for their wife.

The one thing women want above all is to know that they are not too much. That they can be as big and as beautiful and as powerful as God made them without overshadowing a man who is too fragile or insecure.

I didn't tell her to fix her marriage or what the Bible says about divorce. I just shared an idea with her, but when I did, it was like a fuse was lit.

"Yes!" she said, "He didn't want me to go back to school. He didn't want me to have my own friends or outside interests." She paused, "Since we've been apart I have started taking care of myself and have lost weight and started to make new friends." She started to get happy and by the time I left, this once shy, pain stricken barber was shouting to me when I was at the door, "You look great. It is a great haircut because I am a great stylist!"

I didn't change her life. She and I didn't figure out divorce or come up with a plan that other people should follow. This post isn't really even about divorce. This is about realizing that for God and for us, it's about people. Not selling books, not selling out speaking gigs, not getting big or successful. It's about loving on people.

That's what I felt like God said in that moment, "See Jon, I'm glad that more people are reading your sites, but that's not what the goal should be. The goal should be loving on people. That conversation with that barber is every bit as world changing as writing a book. Don't ever underestimate the power of a personal conversation."

And that's what the barber helped me learn.


Emily said...

Great post. I love accidental truths.

mandajune said...

Spot on. Of course, God tends to be that way. I have been missing Prodigal Jon posts -- thanks for sharing!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I promise -- honestly, truly -- this isn't a plug.

But I named my blog after an essay that says virtually the same thing. (You can go read it on my sidebar, right-hand side.)

In the end, the only thing that matters is that we love well.

Anonymous said...

Truly, that conversation is a perfect illustration of what living for the Lord is all about. His glory, not ours!

Andrea said...

This is an amazing realization and post. Perhaps you should mark your calendar to read this same post back to yourself once a month or so. I think I will do the same. I think we get too caught up in ourselves way to easily.

This resonates with the lessons I've been learning over the last year and I think I'm finally getting it!

It's about loving God and loving people.

Good stuff. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think that marriage quote is probably the best I've ever read..I don't think I've ever read something that summed up my heart as a girl as well. It's always about being cherished and stuff, but that is more like me.

Thank you for that. I needed to hear it.

Anonymous said...

pointed towards your blogs today by a friend...the profound truth of what you have stated about men and women cannot be underestimated. If we all truly understood this concept the status of relationships in our world would drastically change. If we all truly understood what is God's true focus revival would burst forth like a flood. Thanks for so eloquently stating what desperately needs to be said.

Leo:Unfinished said...

Did you just used "loving on" twice? lol

A-Ron said...

The goal should be loving on people.

You forgot to link "loving on" with one of your posts. :P

JulieBell said...

Hi Jon,

I just discovered your little trifecta of sites through Stuff Christians Like (which by the way is hilarious). Anyway I think I want to be your new best friend. (And I mean that in as uncreepy a way as possible).

You seemlessly combine two things I appreciate most: humor and Truth. Thanks so much for sharing with us, and you can be sure God is using you in ways you can't even understand. Exhibit A, I often share your posts with non-Christian friends, because I know they'll be more receptive to the humor than to, well, me. God uses all of us in big ways, but I think He's smart enough to not always let us know about it. :)

Trina said...

Wow, this totally goes with the service from our church on Sunday. Our Pastor concluded a series on Unsung Heroes and spoke about the woman at the well in Samaria and how she was a hero because she changed her community. It started with an encounter with Jesus and she shared it with others. I was like wow, really a hero can be anybody that just does what God calls them to do. No matter how big or how small. Why do we make it so much more complicated than that?

robyn collins said...

you just said "loving on"...

by the way... interestingly parallel to a recent experience for me and my hairdresser... i was able to share the gospel with him as he highlighted my hair for my dad's funeral. (i know that sounds self-centered, but i knew i woudl see a million peopel from the past, and i had a headache for 4 days, i knew would go away if he fixed my hair... now i know that we had an appointment that was bigger)

i was able to invite him to church. he said yes... june 1. pray for him.

Ruth said...

One of my favorite Bible verses to live by says "the kindom of heaven is like yeast".

It really is in the small things that turn into big things in a yeast like way.

The Christian Ranter said...

This reminded me of a great blog post by Phil Vischer who started Vegetales. Stepping out to change the world never hurt so bad.

Check it out at;

PoppieGirl said...

She is screaming my story. This is my life right now. Thank you for being out there and sharing parts of your life that help others through theirs. Kudos.

Ros Horton said...

This was a blessing - thank you!

Betsy Thraves said...

I stumbled across your blog through April Lupo's video thing, and what a serendipitous thing that was! Yours is one of the best I have read, and you are a very good writer with great thoughts. Will bookmark you and come back for more.

So much truth in the piece about the barber. I can't recall Jesus ever talking about doing something great for Him, only that who would become great should become the servant of all.

We all long for significance,for our lives to count, which is a godly thing. But always focusing on doing "great things for God" may sometimes smack of pride and/or suggest an insecurity that needs to be appeased by recognition by others. I guess it's one of those divine tensions we live with.

Anyway, good work.

Sarah Lewie said...

I fall guilty of that concept too: that I have to do something "big" in order to make a difference. Maybe I'll remember that it's about people and God and not always about me. =) Thanks Jon!

Jennifer said...

Kickin, Bud. I love all your writings, and you know, each little person in their home, reading your blog entries that gets blessed, like me today, and most days the past month since I found you, are like that barber. Little seeds of HappyGodLovin that are salve on the pain the sin causes in all of our lives. Their transformative potential- who can know. Those little morsels can be called up for years adn years, recalled when needed. Youl'll never know your impact, you'll never be allowed to know. But it's aaaaaww goood. :)
How you have time to read this stuff I have no idea. I don't have tiem to read it all, how do you have time to write it all!!!

Anonymous said...

Matt Redman sings a song called something like “The Father’s Song.” I think it is about the ‘song’ that the Spirit sings over us. I think at times God uses us as conduits for the Father’s song. Last summer I was on a mission trip to Ukraine. I was there to teach some specific material. Thankfully God used that effort. As the time passed and we spent the time between teaching with our hosts and their church mates it was apparent to me that God’s purpose there was as much to love them, encourage them—sing the Father’s song over them. Maybe that is what you did.

Lisa said...

great post. i appreciated how you savored that moment for yourself, noticing the bigness of the littleness, remaining present in the now.