What’s in a name?

Do you have an unusual name?  With a name like mine, (Mebane McMahon), mispronunciations are common.  If you are from North Carolina and travel I-85, you may know there is a town by the same name of Mebane.  According to the town’s website, Mebane is “positively charming”.  I resemble that statement, by the way. Still I get called all kinds of things.  Mee-bane seems to be a favorite which makes my skin crawl.

Some mispronunciations are more innocent; while others are downright funny.  My children’s favorite came years ago from a telemarketer calling on our land line who asked for “Mebalina Macmohoney”. I was also deemed “Mebalina Margarita” by some church members who appreciated my ministry around specific frozen drinks at the local cantina. When a Conference executive who didn’t know me very well once tried to send me an email with Conference information, he accidentally sent it to Me-babe. When I sent it back to him with the comment, “laughing out loud”, he assured me it was an auto-correct accident.  He was so embarrassed and apologetic, I believed him.

However, I think I have now heard my favorite. Owen is the 3 1/2 precocious son of my new Associate Pastor Chris.  Owen and I are just getting to know each other better.  Also a native of North Carolina, his father insists on Owen using proper titles for people in authority.  So I have been introduced to Owen as Pastor Mebane.  However, Owen can’t yet pronounce my name correctly.  Do you know what he calls me?  He calls me “Pastor Heaven”.  Between us, I will never correct him.

The Scabs of Humanity

Years ago, I ran into some friends at a local Wal-Mart. After catching up about kids and work, Lynn shared the strangest thing about her youngest son.  Earlier in the year, he had chicken pox and decided to save the scabs.  That’s right. He kept them in a medicine container on a shelf in his room.  It was his father’s idea.

When his son was whining about how he itched and couldn’t sleep, the idea was planted in the young boy’s mind. The dad said something about the scabs being “battle scars”, which would make a great visual for show and tell.  Kids love gross things.

Let me tell you.  After I quit laughing and gagging at the thought of chicken pox scabs, I remembered that I used to keep old plastered casts that had been cut off my arm or leg after it had healed.  I kept those casts on the shelf in the closet of my childhood home and had no problem bringing them out for my own show and tell.

I am sure I’m not the only one.  Have you ever known someone who kept his gall stones?  How about one who kept the braces from her teeth or the x-rays of broken bones.

As strange as it seems, here’s the truth.  We can only be fully known by our wounds. Scabs and scars are signs of our humanity. Think about it.  It’s hard to find a connection with someone who appears to have it all together. Frankly, I only feel some common ground with someone who has also been broken. Need I also say? Not all scars are physical or apparent to the eye?

Now, I’m not suggesting that we “let it all hang out”.  However, in my profession (ministry), we need to shift from being holier-than-thou to being more real. Granted, I wasn’t brought up that way.  Though it wasn’t spoken, we somehow learned not to share our “dirty laundry” in public. Subliminally, I grew up in an era when “image was everything”.

That’s changed. Maybe it’s not just my profession that is evolving.  These days, it appears that authority comes from authenticity, not title or expertise.  Have you noticed that?

We don’t have to share everything.  In fact, I would discourage it for bosses and leaders. However, instead of riding  high horses, let’s ride donkeys. Even better, let’s just walk or roll alongside those for whom we work and serve.

Let’s take a  look at leadership from a different view.