the weblog of Alan Knox

Missing an opportunity to serve…

Posted by on Feb 27, 2012 in blog links, discipleship | 6 comments

Missing an opportunity to serve…

Have you ever looked back at your life (perhaps to the recent past) and realized that you missed an opportunity that God had given you to serve someone? Unfortunately, that happens to me often. Many times, I try to justify the missed opportunity, but in reality it is just that: a missed opportunity.

I thought about many of those missed opportunities when I read a post by Bobby at “Deconstructing Neverland” called “Smoking in the boys room.”

While the title of his post is also the name of one of the all-time great classic rock songs, that is not what his post is about. Instead, Bobby replays an incident from his childhood in which a church leader missed the opportunity to serve him and his family.

Here is a small part of Bobby’s post:

I had it all worked out. I had friends who were in on my secret and they would be my lookout. I had the schedule memorized and the optimal times to sneak away for a smoke all figured out. It was not a flawless plan. Once an adult caught wind of nicotine in the air, the hunt was on and eventually I was the marked target. I would now have to pay for my sins and be put away from the flock. As they say: little leaven leavens the whole lump.

I vividly remember the pastor bringing be into a private room, taking out my delicious pack of Marlboro Red’s and going completely mental as he broke every one with veins pulsing in his forehead and the look of pure disgust on his face. “I’m doing this because I love you” he tells me. Huh, I thought. Strange love.

After he took out all his emotions on my helpless pack of cancer sticks he escorted me out to the pool where all the other kids were playing. He got everyone’s attention so that I could obey his command to confess to everyone my addiction to cigarettes and let them all know that I was leaving. It is my most embarrassing memory to date and I owe it all to the Pastor who “loved” me enough to put me through it.

Whenever I return to this time in my mind the feelings come flooding back. Embarrassment, shame, fear, guilt, rejection, anger, sadness all coursed through my veins simultaneously. A sweaty little teenage boy hoping to find someone who would accept me in spite of my failures.

You know, I’ve found that there are many little teenage boys and girls – and many older men and women – who are hoping that someone will accept them in spite of their failures. Often, when these failures become apparent, we have an opportunity to accept and serve the person in the love of Jesus Christ.

This is where we often “drop the ball”…

I’m praying for opportunities to serve people, and at the same time, I’m praying that God will give me the grace and humility to love and accept them in spite of their failures, just like he loves and accepts me in spite of my failures.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-27-2012

    While this sounds like a sad, sad story from a guy with serious issues against the church because of past hurts, it’s not. I thank God for this experience because it has taught me a little something about the golden rule. Because of this past hurt I now know how not to react to other peoples failures. It’s still not a perfected practice in me but it does give me a reason to be thankful for even the most hurtful experiences.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. 2-27-2012


    Sounds familiar, both subjectively and objectively.

  3. 2-27-2012


    I thank God that he used this episode to teach you about loving others! From talking to others recently, I’ve heard from many who said this kind of episode has taught them that God doesn’t love them.

    Aussie John,

    Unfortunately, I’ve been on both sides of this story.


  4. 2-28-2012

    Smoking is a horrible addiction that is very difficult to overcome. Most ppl who smoke HATE the fact that they smoke and are very ashamed of it. But when a smoking person finds Christ and finds fellowship with TRUE (on fire for God) believers….He/she will be able to over come the addiction…I know, I’ve been there, done that. 🙂
    This is a great message! Very important reminder. Self-righteous ppl are far more wicked then smoking ppl. May we always remember that. 🙂

  5. 2-28-2012

    The real sin here is that Bobby was smoking Marlboro Reds, anyone with any taste smokes American Spirits or at least Camels!

  6. 2-28-2012


    Self-righteousness is wicked… and it sneaks in so often. At least, it sneaks into my own life very often.


    I’ll let you and Bobby argue about brands.