Monday, April 22, 2013

The Hidden World

There are many blogging voices out there in the technological gristmill. In the past week, most of them have been sad and tragic, reflecting on the loss of lives and injuries in Boston or the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. I think JJ said it well, when on Monday we posted on Facebook, “Our hearts are in Boston, our hope is in Christ.” The same can be said for West, Texas, too.

Of course, in every city, small town and community all across America tears are shed daily as individuals and families experience the hurts and disappointment of life. Their stories don’t make the evening news.

I have the good fortune of being in touch with a number of young ministers who are just starting their journey of faith as pastors.  They call me and ask for advice.  I sort of feel like the veteran Paul who encouraged young Timothy as he was still wet behind his theological ears.   It’s nice to know your experience can help another, which is why there is a quiet joy that comes when you have the opportunity to mentor those who will pick up the mantle once you are long gone. 

I have had some great mentors in my life. I owe them all a round of applause. As you look back over your life and pause to ponder those who helped you along the way, can you still see their faces and hear their voices echoing with sound advice?

I will never forget hearing Morgan Roberts talk about the difference between the “Seen World and the Hidden World.” The seen world is easy to spot. In my case, as I peer out from the pulpit each Sunday I can see all of you. And you look so neat and nice and beautiful, which you are. That is the seen world.

But there is the hidden world in each of us. It is that world that lies beneath the surface of the seen world. The hidden world is the one we try to hide from each other. The argument you had with your teenagers in the driveway as you were leaving for worship. The anxiety that your marriage is coming apart at the seams. The fear in waiting for the lab report. The heartache of a loved one in emotional or physical pain. There are as many tears as there are people in the world. And so I tell those young preachers who seek my guidance, “look at the hidden world, and preach to the hidden world.” 

I encourage them never to forget that on every pew there is at least one broken heart. I tell them to remember what Ian Maclaren said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

The tragedies of this week remind us of the importance of kindness. The importance of taking time to show you care. The importance of saying “I love you” each time a family member leaves for work or school or to run in the Boston Marathon.

We have experienced so much of the “Seen World” this week. But even more important is how we encounter the “Hidden World.”


  1. Our Stephen Ministry program assists many people in facing their "Hidden World(s)." Stephen Ministers truly are a blessing...Everyone has a story to tell.

  2. I can always count on you Tom. Thank you again. You are one of those "mentors" I applause and appreciate your sound advice.