Early Bird Gets the Broom
There is a time and a place for everything, and the last day of a church camp is not the time nor the place for an early bird.
Encounter is a camp that, as a youth minister, I take the teenagers from my youth group in Texas to, a camp I have gone to for over a decade. I do so, not because it is easy, but because it is effective. it certainly is not easy. I don’t want to complain too much about it, because it could be worse. In some ways, it is less demanding than other camps are on me, but extremely late nights and early mornings and full days of teaching and activity and personal ministry make me increasingly exhausted as the week goes on.
Such was the case a few years ago, a week that had been particularly draining. on Friday morning, the last full day of camp activities before we would head back home the following day, I was in a much needed deep sleep. suddenly, outside my window, there was the beautiful song of a bird of which I am unfamiliar the species. In a delicate but clear, crystallin tone, this bird was singing a cheerful, optimistic song to greet the new day. This early bird had something to look forward to, had a joyful expectation for the day, and wanted to share that with the world.
But I just wanted it to stop!
Don’t get me wrong, I like birds as well as the next guy, and I appreciate optimism and hope and joy in anyone, regardless of species. but not at 4 in the morning! I know the bird has hopeful expectations for the day, but at 4 in the morning, that’s a little too eager. and I know it wants to spread its joy to others around, but at 4 in the morning, that’s a disturbance.
In the book of Proverbs, we are told that a person who intends to offer a blessing, if done too early in the morning, it will instead come across as a curse. this is not so much a command as it is an observation about life. The writer had obviously experienced either trying to impart a blessing but at the wrong time only to find that the person was more insulted then appreciative or, perhaps more likely, had the experience of being on the receiving end of a person’s Wellington gende but poorly timed greeting or blessing. This came to mind at 4 in the morning when I began looking for a broom with which to return d blessing of the early bird outside the window.
It is a lesson that will help us to be received well as we tried to show kindness to others. As Christians, and even merely as people trying to be good people, it is our desire to be a blessing and to show kindness. But it behooves us to keep in mind that there is a time and a place for everything, which makes it true that there is also a wrong time and a wrong place for those same things. We would not want to bang on a neighbor’s door at 4 in the morning only to greet then when they answer the door by blurting out that we just wanted to wish them a good day. this would not create a good start to their day, nor would it endear them to us.
This reminds me to be considerate of another person’s needs before I try to give them what I think they need. I may have great intentions to be a blessing, followed by a great idea that I believe will bless them. but this does not ensure it will be a blessing. What must be considered most and must be considered first is how it will be received, not how it is given, the attitude and the means and intentions with which is given.
I know I have been on the receiving end of some well intentioned but poorly timed blessings. People who were trying to minister to me with a deep and heartfelt talk who had little concern for the fact that I badly needed to be somewhere else at that moment or that the environment we were in would make it extremely uncomfortable to have that talk there. Just to name one example. Thankfully, these are from people I love and whom I know want the best for me, so I enable to try to adapt how I receive it, basing it not on what it meant to me but rather on what it meant for them to give it.
Still, let us take a lesson from the bird. If you have some hope to give or a song to share, wait until the person can receive it as a blessing. otherwise, you might get the broom.