John the Baptist was the focus of the gospel reading today (Matthew 3.1-12). Although there are a lot of attractions in being like Christ I have often spent time thinking about what I can learn from being like John the Baptist. Let’s see what he has to offer:
• He did not claim to be the Christ
• He “prepared the way” for Jesus – he had a role to “go before”
• He was subservient to Jesus
• He knew he had his role to play
When reflecting on what sort of Chaplain I want to be, these are helpful lessons for me to learn. We will sometimes meet people who see us as or who want us to be their “Messiah” but such unrealistic expectations can cripple us and damage them. Ultimately we want people to have their own relationship with Christ and our role is often to prepare the way for that. I am more likely to be able to go the distance if I am not trying to be someone’s Messiah but preparing the way for them to encounter Jesus.
This is a reflection adapted from my booklet What Theology for Youth Work Grove Youth Series Y8 Cambridge: Grove Books, 2007.