Friday, April 8, 2022

Kindergartners and Falling Giants

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 17:20-49 or 1 Samuel 17:1-58 (the whole story)

In 1990, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a movie called Kindergarten Cop. A hardened, tough guy cop with no room for family and no sense of humor who, through a series of twists, ends up undercover, teaching a class full of kindergartners. If you've seen the movie, you can probably hear Arnold right now saying, "Eet's not a toomah!" At first, Arnold's character gets run over by the kids, he doesn't know how to handle their energy, their questions, or their unique outlook. At the end of the first day he falls onto his bed, face down, lamenting, "They're terrible!" It is only after the cop decides to handle the situation like a cop that he manages to get things under control. He turns the kindergarten class into a police academy, and structures things in a way that works for him. Soon, the kids love Arnold's tough guy character and Arnold ends up loving kindergarten, but only when he finally decides to use his own gifts and strengths and not try to teach kindergarten like everybody else.

In 1 Samuel 17, we find the story of David and Goliath, with which many of us are familiar. After David began asking around about what would happen for the person who fought Goliath (assuming that person survived), King Saul heard about David and had David brought before him. Once David convinced Saul to let him fight the Giant, Saul put David into his own battle suit (maybe he was hoping people would mistake David for himself) and gave David his own sword.  When David tried to move, he realized that going into battle dressed in Saul's armor would only get him killed and he told Saul, "I cannot go in these because I am not used to them"  (1 Samuel 17:39, NIV). David took off Saul's armor and then armed himself with the tools he knew he could use, his shepherd's staff, a sling, and five smooth stones.  Most of us know the story from there, how David went out to face Goliath, proclaiming that God would win the fight for him and then slung a stone into Goliath's forehead, knocking him out and allowing David to chop off Goliath's head with the giant's own sword.

What David and Arnold's cop/teacher have in common is that they both accomplished the task that was given to them in extraordinary ways and they did so by doing it their way, using their own unique gifts and talents. We could learn a thing or two from that.

Far too often, we fall into the mindset that tasks can only be accomplished a particular way. We allow other people to tell us how to do what God has called us to or, worse yet, we try to tell other people how to do what God has called them to do. The problem is, when God calls a person, he calls that person, with all of their strengths and weaknesses,  flaws and gifts. If God has called you to something, God has called you. God wants you to use the gifts and abilities that have been given to you.

When you feel like you're being pushed into a corner because people are putting their own armor on you, have the guts to say, "I can't go in these because I am not used to them." God may have called you because your own unique way of doing things is exactly what the situation requires. A normal soldier with a sword and shield would never have gotten close enough to Goliath to take him down. David wasn't a normal soldier, but he knew what he was good at.

Are you trying to wear someone else's armor? Try accomplishing the task you've been given as if it was designed specifically for you. It probably was. 

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