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The Life Less Traveled

August 21, 2013
When you're setting up your children's ministry rooms early on Sunday morning, the last thing you expect to hear is a rooster. A real, live rooster. Up close, they don't make a cock-a-doodle-doo sound. They sound like a woman shrieking.

For five years, I worked at a church in Indianapolis that met in a gym. We had classrooms all around the perimeter and a kitchen right next to the stage. My children's worship room was in the very back, so it didn't matter much if we got a little noisy.

Every Sunday morning, I would show up at the crack of dawn to make sure my room was set for the kids. We had a tiny stage in the corner with a free-standing folding screen to give us a small backstage area.

At that time of day, there weren't many people around. The church was as quiet as a graveyard, except for the morning I got attacked by the rooster.

I was in the middle of setting up when the sound tore through the room. I jumped so high I almost took out a ceiling tile. Once my heart rate returned to normal, I peeked backstage and there he was, just hanging out in a cardboard box.

Technically, he didn't attack me, but he looked mean. He crowed again even louder. I was totally confused. Who put a rooster on my stage?

Just then one of my storytellers walked in. She taught the class after mine that met in the second service. She always went all-out for her lessons, which now apparently included live farm animals. Suddenly, my children's ministry was turning into Siegfried and Roy.

"You have to get this rooster out of here," I told her. "I can't teach a room full of kids with this guy squawking in the back."

"What do you want me to do with him?"

"I don't care," I said. "Just get him out of here."

In retrospect, I probably should have been more specific. Did I mention that the church kitchen was right by the stage where the minister preached every week to hundreds of people?

But I didn't think about that at the time. All I knew was that the shrieking rooster was gone and I could get back to work. By the time my leaders and kids got there, I'd forgotten all about it.

I was about halfway through my lesson when a stagehand from the adult service poked her head in the room.

"Excuse me," she said. "The minister wants to know why there's a rooster in the kitchen."

Apparently, he'd made it a few minutes into his sermon when my barnyard buddy started crowing his head off. If the minister had been telling the story about Peter denying Jesus (which does involve a rooster), it would be have been really powerful. However, I think he was preaching on marriage. The rooster didn't help.

W.C. Fields once said to never work with kids or animals. Now, I think I know why. But even more importantly I learned that day that I need to think through my decisions a little more carefully.

The Bible says, "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways." (Proverbs 14:8) I'm not always so good at that. I often act before I think and only later realize how dumb of a decision I made.

But on those times I actually stop and ask God for wisdom, it's a different ballgame. He guides me. He shows me my next step and keeps me from making a mess of things.

So, the next time you need to get rid of a rooster or are dealing with an equally unexpected problem, ask God what He thinks you should do. You might be surprised to find the answer you need is just one prayer away.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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