From the privileged, precarious and sometime prickly seat of the Pastorate, you experience and witness all kinds of unusual things. One of my many unusual experiences both warmed my heart and gave me spiritual indigestion. Unknown to me or her mother, a daughter (about 4-5 years old) of one of the most faithful and conscientious servants in the church went for a period of time stubbornly convinced that I was God.
Initially it struck me as really cute and adorable because the little girl was cute and adorable, but the implications of it quickly settled into my restless soul. For the period she was convinced I was God, what did her little eyes see me doing? What did her little ears hear me say, and was there an imprint based upon how I said it? How did it all settle into her little tender instinct and judgment of what she could conclude about God?
Likewise, on the issue of race, diversity, inclusion and reconciliation, I’m asking myself, ”What is our younger generation learning from us as they quietly observe, absorb and interpret our actions and non-action, conversations, attitudes, values and our spoken and unspoken priorities?
You can revisit them for yourself, but be reminded that Jesus issued bone-chilling, dire advisories regarding hurt and harm of children. Perhaps a really revealing and simple question I can ask myself is this: “When I’m standing in the brilliant, revealing light of “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; And secondly, love your neighbor (who is everybody I encounter) as yourself (Luke 10:27),” can I credibly claim the first commandment if I’m failing the second commandment? Can we talk?
Randy Haynes is a consultant on staff with NorthStar Church Network, focusing on issues of racism, diversity, and reconciliation. Email him at to join in the conversation.