Friday, September 08, 2006

No Experience Necessary

I tried something new this week and saved $30 in the process. I visited the Aveda Institute located a few blocks from the church, on the second floor of the Verizon Center development. I have read about the Aveda Institute, having picked up a pamphlet months ago. The Institute prepares men and women to cut hair, do manicures and pedicures, and offer a myriad of spa selections. The difference between the Aveda Institute and an Aveda salon boils down to two things -- price and experience. If you go to the Aveda Institute, you sign a waiver that states how you realize your service will be performed by a student -- by someone who is still in school and who might mess up. However, you get the service at a fraction of the normal cost. A hair cut, for example, is $18.

I walked into the doors of the Institute at the appointed time. I made my way through the simple store filled with shampoos, conditioners, makeup, candles and lotions. I sat down at the bench where all customers are directed to wait, and I waited for my name to be called.

As I sat there I looked around, examining each student to see if I thought they had enough experience to cut my hair. Numerous thoughts went through my mind as I waited. Would that person be able to handle my ultra thick hair? What about that woman -- isn't she too young to cut hair? Look at her -- she doesn't know how to style her own hair -- how could she possibly style my hair? I wonder if I can switch my service to a pedicure instead of a haircut.

My mind didn't get far, however, before Rachel walked over, extended her hand to greet me, and ushered me to her chair. She assessed my hair carefully, asking me what I wanted her to do. She then called her instructor over to double check her plans.

The treatment then began. I was refreshed by a scalp massage, a short shoulder massage, and an amazing shampoo. And, an hour and a half later, I had a great haircut, and Rachel had learned how to use a new tool that she had not yet learned to use in her education. Furthermore, I was out only $18 plus a $4 tip.

I have thought a lot this week about my impressions of the students in the Institute. It certainly was not right for me to try to size everyone's gifts up while waiting on the bench. I was certainly premature with my judgment. I wanted the person cutting my hair to look competent. I wanted her to look like she spent time on her own hair. I wanted her to give me a fabulous cut -- even though she was a beginner.

I wonder what first-time visitors at our church think of me when I introduce myself as the pastor. Do I look like a pastor? Do I appear competent enough to share the good news? Does my life embody a life of the sacred -- a life of prayer, of service, of ministry to the poor, of study of scripture -- a life of faith?

There are so many things I love about Jesus. One of them, however, is that when he called a group of disciples he said that no experience was necessary. He called people who were in entirely different fields. He called fishermen and tax collectors -- not religious scholars to be his disciples. He called people like Peter who wanted to trust but had a hard time -- not people who had their walks of faith all figured out and perfected. Jesus demonstrated that he could use anyone in his quest to heal the sick, share good news with the poor, and bring about a new kind of kingdom.

Thankfully, Jesus still calls people who do not have it all together -- people who are still learning -- people who are still making mistakes -- people like you and like me.

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