Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Passing the Torch, Part II

In my previous post, I shared with you about my friend Jim, who was my minister at my church when I was in college. If Jim changed the way I view ministers, by making them seem more accessible, more like someone I can be friends with, then this guy has taken that one step further by making them seem real. His name is Chuck Monan, and he’s the preacher at my church here in Little Rock.

I don’t know him nearly as well as I know Jim. But I have been at my church here in Little Rock for over four years now….so I guess technically now I’ve listened to him preach on a regular basis longer than I listened to Jim.

In trying to describe Chuck, several words come to mind: genuine, matter-of-fact, honest (sometimes blunt), passionate, funny, thoughtful, practical, very well-read, interesting (perhaps because he’s so well-read), very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

I have the privilege of listening to him not only on Sundays from the pulpit, but also in a classroom setting on Wednesday nights. His authenticity, genuineness, realness, whatever you prefer to call it, is what I love most about him. And, in fact, one of those moments that I think I heard him at his most real, open, and honest, occurred during one of those Wednesday night classes, a little over a year ago. I’ll go ahead and share a little bit of that story here…

Chuck always ends our class discussions with a prayer. Always. Chuck’s even been known to start or end a sermon with a prayer. Not often, but occasionally. And I’ve been listening to him preach and going to his class, listening to him most Sundays and Wednesdays for the past four years and a couple of months now. Suffice it to say, I’ve heard Chuck pray/lead us in prayer more times than I can count.

But that one Wednesday night, we ended class, and as he started praying about something very near and dear to his heart, something changed. I’m not sure if it was the tone of his voice or just what. I don’t even remember the words he said. I just remember feeling, all of a sudden, like the 40+ of us that were in the room with him were eavesdropping on his very personal conversation as, for a few seconds, he poured his heart out to his Creator and Father God...and I was like “Whoa!”

After class, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just imagined that…” But then, later that evening at dinner, a friend said something about “…Chuck’s prayer tonight! It was pretty intense.”

That’s just an example that remains in my mind of his ability to be so open and real. But along with that quality goes the fact that he is very practical. That’s probably what I’ve been blessed the most by. I’ve been going to church, listening to sermons for years. Good sermons, lessons where I learn a lot. But sometimes those lessons can be lofty/weighty/theological/difficult to apply to my life here in 21st century America. However, I think I can honestly say that every time I sit at Chuck’s feet (metaphorically speaking, of course!) and learn from him, I walk away with a practical idea of at least one thing that I can actually do to try to be more like the person God wants me to be.

Thanks, Chuck, for passing that on.

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