Many years ago, whilst pastoring a tiny church in southeastern Washington, I was hired by a high school to teach a basic theatre class. The teacher had wound up in a painful divorce and needed time to take care of herself. It also paid my bills.
Dutifully, I showed up in the classroom every single day. I had only one unbreakable rule—we started every class with one minute of silence. Everyone had to participate, and if anyone broke the silence, we started over. One day it took us 42 minutes to get to one minute of silence.
Finally, one of the kids asked me why I insisted upon this.
I explained that I wanted them to use the time to put down whatever else had happened that day and come fresh into theatre class. Silence is one way to do that.
Well, to make a very long semester shorter, the kids somehow found out what I “really did,” and they brought that knowledge to theatre class. I got a new name, “Yo, Rev!” Once one of them started it, it stuck, and they all used it.
As I think back, that new name was the beginning of being able to reach those young people in a way I might never have had they not discovered my true profession. Somehow what it did was give them permission to ask me their real questions about life.
So the coolest thing happened just the other day. One of those long-ago students found me somewhere online and wrote me an email. She said she’d learned confidence in that class, and it had stood by her ever since.