Ministering to Poohs

This post is part of the church in the hundred acre wood series (click to view the other posts in this series).

It has been several months since I last wrote on this blog and in this series “Ministering in the Hundred Acre Wood.”  Writing a blog actually requires something that, of late, has been scarce – a bit of extra time.  As a pastor, my first responsibility is to minister in the “Acre” where God has placed me – and to do so personally and not just through writing.  So I hope that’s where my time has been – ministering in the “acre” of Trinity Grace Church.  But I do want to challenge myself to finish that which I started so on this rainy Friday afternoon in a few spare moments that God has given to me, I want to say something concerning Winnie the Pooh. 

Certainly, and obviously, the most familiar of all the characters in the hundred-acre wood is that for whom the story is named, Winnie the Pooh.  He is quite possibly the most loved character of all children’s literature.  Who doesn’t grin, and honestly, can’t relate to, Pooh’s oft said quote, “Ohh, there’s a rumbly in my tumbly”?  Who doesn’t often share Pooh’s response of “Oh, bother!?”  Sure, Pooh’s not the brightest character in the hundred-acre wood (after all, his head is full of fluff), but certainly we all are moved by his love for his friends and his heart for the others who live in the wood.  And Pooh also has that everyday common sense that seems to be missing from so many others. 

Pooh is a friend others want to be around.  They want to be around him because he is often thinking of them.  Simply put, he is a friendly bear.  He is often concerned for the welfare of those around him as much as he is for himself.  But Pooh also has his weaknesses; while he is concerned for those around him, sometimes his love for hunny, his appetite for hunny, leads him to abandon that wonderful common sense and make decisions with “his belly” rather than with his mind….or fluff. 

Pooh is an important member of the hundred-acre wood.  He has things to offer as well as things he needs.  Though there is only one Pooh in the hundred-acre wood, there are many “Poohs” in the life of the church.  How can we minister to the “Poohs” in our midst and how can “Poohs” minister in our midst?

Everybody loves the “Poohs” in our midst; and consequently, sometimes, no one loves the “Poohs” in our midst.  That is to say that there often assumptions made about certain people with whom we live and associate.  It is assumed that since “everybody loves them” that they are, in fact, being loved.  I do not think this is a safe assumption.  Too often, it is those who we think are the most fulfilled that are actually the loneliest.  Their lives are full of acquaintances and yet empty of real intimacy.  Even as these “Poohs” make good friends, they too, need a good friend.  They are often the ones called to referee, moderate, and negotiate relationships – this can be tiring.  They need others to pour into them, to encourage them, and to befriend them.  “Poohs” have a desire to please others, a desire to be a friend, and in that desire there is a temptation for that tendency to “people please” to cloud that otherwise, “common” sense.  “Poohs” need to be encouraged that there are times when principle must come before people.  This is hard for those “Poohs” in our midst; it was hard for Pooh in the Hundred-Acre Wood as we often find him muttering to himself over a problem, “think, think, think!”  A thoughtfulness for people shouldn’t keep one from thinking. 

But of course, this thoughtfulness is of greatest need in the church.  What ministry opportunity there is for those who are thoughtful – for those who give thought to the practical and subtle needs of others for which others often overlook.  The wandering visitor who may not be sure where his or her children are to go for nursery – a loving welcome from a “Pooh” is sure to encourage.    The discouraged mother of toddlers who feels like all she does is follow and pick up after a human tornado – a friendly ear and a sympathetic “oh bother” may be just the thing.  The willingness to be a friend to someone else can have lasting impact in the life and heart of a person.

This may not seem very “theological;” and it’s not.  It’s not meant to be.  It’s meant to be practical and a help to you and I as we think about and strive to love members in the church of our Lord Jesus.  While it may not seem “theological” its practice certainly is derived from a robust theology.  As Christians, are we not to love that which God loves?  And has He not loved His Church so much that He gave His only begotten Son?  May we all love that which Christ loves! 

This post is part of the church in the hundred acre wood series (click to view the other posts in this series).