Linus, one of Charles Shultz’s “Peanuts” tribe, often reminds me of the Rodney Dangerfield of the cartoon characters. No matter how hard he tries, how sincere, or how diligent he may be, he usually winds up looking at you as if to say, “I’ll tell ya, I don’t get no respect!”

In a series of cartoons some years ago the little guy was taking heat from his sister and friends for his newly found “calling”–patting little birds on the head. The distressed birds would approach Linus, lower their little feathered pates to be patted, sigh deeply, and walk away satisfied. It brought Linus no end of fulfillment–in spite of Lucy’s embarrassment and chagrin.

Now I’ll grant you, bird patting is a little unusual as a calling. I mean, it isn’t every day you stumble across somebody who gets turned on by stroking feathers. At least we could agree that it is not one of the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12. Or is it? Look again.

How about that niche called “showing mercy” or “helps”? Romans 12 mentions “encouraging” and a little later “contributing to the needs of others.” The more I read, the more I wonder. Who’s to say that a person’s niche in life couldn’t be patting, stroking, and hugging?

Now if your niche is one of the “lesser” ones, you can expect some raised eyebrows and tongue-in-cheek comments among a few of the more sophisticated Lucy-type saints. You may even be confronted by well-meaning relatives in God’s family who want to know what patting, stroking, and hugging has to do with following Christ. After all, Christianity is a business!

In one of the scenes, Charlie Brown and Linus dialogue about all this patting. Linus wants to know “What’s wrong with patting birds on the head?” He says again that he simply wants to know what’s wrong with it?” Charlie stares thoughtfully, then declares rather frankly, “No one else does it!”

Some niches must struggle to exist, to say nothing of being appreciated. Not teaching. If you’re a Bible teacher, wow! Superlative city. Or evangelism. No way will you be ignored or discredited. And if your thing happens to be leadership or preaching for a congregation or one of those up-front, get-at-it type gifts, you’ve got it made. But wait a minute!

Let’s hear it (for a change) for the “toes” on the Body. How about some applause for the “spleens” and the “tonsils” and a “fingernail” or two? I just finished reading the verse that says God has given greater honor to the lesser parts. (Read I Cor. 12 for a full discussion of this.)

So if your niche is encouraging, please don’t stop. If it is embracing, demonstrating warmth, compassion, and mercy to feathers that have been ruffled by offense and bruised by adversity, for goodness’ sake, keep stroking. Don’t quit, whatever you do. Give your heart, regardless! If God made you a “patter,” then keep on patting to the glory of God. I’ll tell ya this, you’ve got His respect.

By Charles Swindoll From The Quest for Character


Comments are closed.