I like to laugh. I love being around clever, witty, funny people. I can’t imagine staying in this job without people who are fun and funny.
Victor Borge wrote that the shortest connection between two people is humor. Fil Anderson, a friend from my Young Life days, wrote in a training manual about reaching students with the Gospel: “We use humor a lot in Young Life. It may well be one of our best tools in establishing relationships with kids.”
I have learned over time that I need people to help lighten the load that life sometimes burdens us with by loving me, listening to me, weeping with me, and sometimes getting me to laugh.”
Our senior high school pastor enjoys my presence because I laugh at almost every witty comment he makes, and there are usually a plethora of them. He often says after hearing me laugh about something he has done or said: “Oh good, my job security is good for another season.”
My sons are funny too. They make family get-togethers similar to a comedy routine. Their laughter and clever dialogues make light for a few moments the burdens of life that we all share.
Many of us, as we get older, lose a sense of the importance of humor in our lives. When was the last time you laughed till you cried? Listen to the writer of Psalm 126 as he describes being set free from their captors: “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” Imagine being in exile, held captive for generations and then being allowed to return home. There are times for laughter and joy and celebrating life.
Young Life trained me that humor should be used to build up, illuminate, decrease tension, break down barriers, and even to heal both physically and relationally. When I say humor, I mean the laughter and joy like in Psalm 126; I would never recommend or strive for humor that is sarcasm, dark humor, sexual humor, crude humor, or humor at someone else’s expense. Laughter is always a gift from the Lord.
I can be funny sometimes too. I have learned that being able to laugh at oneself is healthy, which means that I must be healthy because I laugh at myself often.
In my early years at LMPC I often attended conferences put on by Youth Specialties, an organization to help train and equip youth leaders to do ministry well. Mike Yaconelli, one of the founders, was one of the funniest people I ever met and heard speak. At one seminar he was expressing how teachers in our schools could use a little levity, and who better than by men and women who understood the day-in-and-day-out of working with children and teens. He invited us to think of ways to encourage them with humor and explained that with his own children he became the parent that wrote their “excuses” for absences, doctors’ appointments, tardiness, etc. He challenged us to be creative, light, and funny as a tool to make them smile or giggle or maybe laugh out loud, so I did. Here is one of those original notes I wrote on behalf of my daughter:
Dear Miss Giddens:
Kathleen cannot participate in all the precarious, pertinent playing in gym this week. We took her to the physician yesterday to have her largest toe cut upon, shaved, burned, and bandaged. It will probably be painful in normal activity, so allow her to be abnormal…as is the rest of her family.
Signed, Tom Cruise.
I think Miss Giddens at least chuckled, and then saved it in a folder with many others in order to give them back to me at the end of the year so that 25 years later my wife could find the originals and have a book, Pardon My Dad, made for me for Father’s Day last year.
I have learned over time that I need people to help lighten the load that life sometimes burdens us with by loving me, listening to me, weeping with me, and sometimes getting me to laugh.
Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and far more life than before.” There is a time as captives made free when our mouths and hearts should be filled with laughter.