I’ve been something of a fan of comedian Wil Anderson for quite a few years now. I think the Glasshouse and Gruen shows have been some of Australian TV’s high points for me over the past decade. I went to see his “Wil of God” show in Adelaide a few years ago and ended up using his conclusion in my sermon the next morning. While he and I obviously have some quite different perspectives on life, not to mention fairly different ways of talking about them, I find that the questions he is asking about life are actually quite similar to my own – and sometimes his are much better and force me to ground my own thoughts in the realities of the wider culture in which I live. Plus he is just really good at making me laugh!
So last week I listened to his new podcast, “Wilosophy.” And to be honest I was a tiny bit jealous. Because what he is doing seems like one of the best jobs I can imagine: sitting down in a room with a person you find really interesting and talking about their story and their perspective on life, asking good questions and together reflecting on what it might all mean. I would love someone to pay me to do that!
Okay, to be fair, when I was working as a school chaplain and then as a pastor, there is a sense that I was being paid to do just that. I loved chatting with the girls at school and when they asked, “Am I keeping you from doing your job?” being able to say, “This IS my job!” There’s something truly wonderful about taking the time to listen to someone’s story, asking questions that help them reflect and put some of the pieces together, and seeking to learn how it might fit into the bigger picture of life that each of you sees.
So last week Wil was interviewing Redesign My Brain’s Todd Sampson and they spoke about some of the people they called “nodes”: people who your life comes into contact with and you are changed, inspired, provoked, sent in a new direction. Although I wouldn’t use the same terminology, I absolutely believe that God has used people in my life in that way. Some have been friends and mentors. Others have been strangers and even people I strongly disagree with. I love that I can be inspired, challenged, and shaped by all different kinds of people. I look at who I follow on Twitter and it seems like a completely random assortment of theologians, friends, politicians, comedians, writers, acquaintances, thinkers, and bloggers. But hopefully it means I’m listening to some small pieces of their stories and being challenged, inspired, confronted, interested, affirmed and amused by how what they say intersects with my story.
The most important person who has changed my life, however, is Jesus. It’s hard to say that without it sounding clichéd or even corny. But it’s true. My life would not look anything like it does today if I hadn’t met Jesus and I hope my life in the future will look quite different from how it looks today because of the things He still has to show and teach me.
So Wil Anderson if you’re reading this (yeah right :)), maybe you are a little bit of a “node” for me. I don’t see things the same way as you do all the time, but I appreciate the way you challenge my thinking. And if you want to shoot the breeze on life stories and philosophy with a relatively normal, thinking out-loud Aussie who happens to have found hope in Jesus, give me a call!