“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” – Romans 12:6
A wise philosopher once noted that we should be who God made us to be, rather than someone we are not. That takes me back to a favorite family story from our days living in Houston back in the mid 1980’s. At that time one of the most popular lunch venues among the more genteel crowd was the Junior League Tea Room. Nestled among the mansions within the highly exclusive River Oaks neighborhood, the tea room was a favorite spot for bankers and business executives to entertain their well-healed clients as well as being a luncheon respite for high-fashioned shoppers from the nearby exclusive Galleria mall. Not only was the setting lovely and the food superb, but unlike other restaurants it was hosted and served by the fine volunteer ladies of the Junior League.
My wife, Tee, who happened to be one of those fine ladies of the Junior League, thought it a nice gesture one day to treat her family to lunch at the tea room. So, we arrived with our two young sons – who, mind you, were twelve and eight at the time – all dressed up in their navy blazers, kaki paints and red ties, and were seated at a specially reserved table in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by some of Houston’s most distinguished citizens. All went well until . . . well, boys will be boys. With the first foible came a “shh!!” and stern look from their mother, but soon the giggles digressed into raucous laughter that eventually infected all four of us. So there we were in middle of River Oaks of all places when the whole façade of appearing to be a highly refined prim-and-proper family came tumbling down. You had to be there to fully appreciate it.
Here’s the interesting part, though. Our intention was to use this little outing as an opportunity to teach our two young sons some of the finer points of social graces. Instead, it was they who taught us the greater lesson – to be who God made us to be rather than trying to be someone we are not. By their little boyish antics, they cut right through the whole façade. While the social graces we were trying to teach them are certainly important, as only kids can remind us, authenticity is even more important. That’s the paradox of the story and what we really remember it for. “We [each] have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”