About Rhino for Dinner

Linen tablecloths, fine china, crystal glasses and soft music playing in the background.  You and your soul mate have carved out a night of romance together, and you’re enjoying it and each other in one of the finest restaurants in town.  Suddenly, you hear a commotion near the entrance of the dining room.  The maitre d’ is protesting loudly, “But you don’t have a reservation!”  You crane your neck to see who the jerk is that is forcing his way into your special evening.  Then you spot him… it’s a rhino.  Yes, a real live, horn wearing, nose snorting, leather skinned, earth shaking rhinoceros.

Your wife squeals, “DO SOMETHING!!!”  What are your options?  Do you shoot it(oh wait, left rhino gun at home)?  Wrestle it to the ground and hog tie it with dinner napkins?  Lure it into the bathroom with scraps from your plate?  Or maybe you simply pull out its chair at the table next to you, and help it to find its seat?  After assessing the situation, you act, and do the only thing you know you can do… you spring into action…  and RUN!

Now, I know this is a ludicrous example… I mean, don’t rhinos usually do fast food?  Anyway, I share the story so that I can share the illustration.  G.K.Chesterson was a famous English writer in the early 1900’s… in commenting on the difference between “power” and “authority” he said,  “If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I would be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.”

So it seems in many churches these days that young ministers enter as the rhinoceros into the restaurant, & the results can be just as chaotic.  People are run roughshod over, with various kinds of damage left in the wake.  It’s what happens when you invite a “rhino for dinner”.  But sometimes what happens is that those in the restaurant, rather than run from the rhino instead turn on the rhino.  Very soon what we find is not a rhino IN the restaurant, but a rhino ON the menu, and truly people are having “rhino for dinner”.

My hope in writing here is to minimize or prevent both of these scenarios from happening in the life of young ministers, as well as in the body life of churches.  Careful and intentional mentoring can make all the difference in the world in the quality, length and even survival of young people entering into a lifetime in church vocational work.