Last week I was performing in Hoboken, NJ. On my schedule it listed the school as a Middle School, but when I showed up I found that it was an alternative High School. In case you’re not aware of the implications of ‘alternative’ usually it means kids that were not quite up to par with behavior in public schools (they got kicked out) and in the case of inner city public schools, these are rough kids. I hauled all my stuff up 2 flights of stairs and started setting up. The vice principal came in, introduced himself and gave me one of the best pep-talks I’ve ever had…”If you stink, they’ll eat you alive.” I chuckled and he said “no seriously, these are rough kids and they will eat you alive”, or as mr. t would probably say…they don’t pity no fool.
With that speech, he turned and took off. I had 10 minutes to sit there and imagine all the terror that was about to ensue…or I had 10 minutes to pray and let God do his thing in the hearts of these kids. Every day and situation we have the opportunity to make things better or worse by our thoughts. We can either let them run rampant or take control and make things happen. We choose.
2 Cor. 10:4-5 gives us the biblical example of how to win in these situations “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
It’s easy to allow our thoughts to wander in directions that are either unproductive or destructive. I’ve never lived in anyone else’s shoes, but I know this is a major area for me to work on constantly, and I’m sure you deal with this as well. I have always had a very active imagination and it’s easy to find my thoughts wandering all over the place. Paul’s exhortation is that we learn how to take control and guide our thoughts in the right way. Philippians 4:8 tells us where to go with our thoughts “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” These are the criteria to base our thoughts on. I could have chosen to sit there and think about how these kids were going to laugh at me, make fun of me and eventually tear the flesh from my bones and enjoy doing it, but I know better. My first instinct was to sit there and pray, “God I know you love these kids and no matter where they’re from or what’s happened to them, you care and today you’re going to speak through me into their lives”. Plain and simple. I’ve trained myself to skip the negative step and go right to positive. It’s not always easy, it’s a fight that I’m sure will be with me until I die, but with God’s help, I’m ready to win.
As a quick aside, the show went great and the vp walked up to me and smiled…Good job, I was impressed. From him, I took that as a compliment.