Nerdiness and Neediness

I always love the subtle, but significant shift that can come in the meaning of words by simply substituting one letter for another. A horse can become a house, a mower can mow lower, while you may lack the luck to lick a lock (whatever that might mean…) This morning as I was preaching I was suddenly aware how much fun I was having being a Bible word nerd and a Greek geek and I realized how easy it would be for me to just keep on talking and talking and talking. Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to wrap it up and sit down, but I was overwhelmed by how much fun I have getting up in front of people and sharing what I learn, know, and think I know, about the Bible, God, and our Christian faith. My nerdiness is my neediness.

And I am living in a dangerous environment where many people are being very kind and supportive about my preaching and teaching. (I think back to Sally Field accepting her Oscar for Norma Rae, gasping incredulously, “they like me, they really like me!”) It is a very dangerous thing to encourage a talker who already loves talking too much. And I think the months of COVID restriction have amplified everyone’s desires to connect. Talkers are ready to talk more, listeners are ready to listen more, but we’re not always in the same place at the same time.

I love teaching what I learn. I often volunteer to teach something I am less familiar with, just for the challenge of learning enough to have something of value to offer to others. I just finished reading my 168th of 2021. I read, on average, two books every three days, and often wish I had more time to read. Nerd. Geek. Dweeb. Proud of it. I often wonder what other people do with their time, especially when I meet with people who tell me they don’t read at all (books, anyway). My mind swirls constantly with new ideas, old information, different perspectives on both, and triggers to make me think about things completely unrelated to what I am reading. Poetry, politics, theology, mystery, science, economics, leadership, spirituality, drama, biblical commentary, graphic novels – I am also one of the most eclectic readers I know, intentionally reading things I believe I will disagree with before I even crack the cover.

I don’t recommend this for anyone else, nor do I judge others who tell me they think so much reading is a royal waste of time. Okay, to be honest, I do judge others who say they have no time to read or colleagues who tell me proudly that they haven’t read a book since graduating seminary, as if this is a fine achievement. I am biased; I think reading is important. I think lifelong, continuous learning is important. I think that authentic Christian discipleship demands a commitment to lifelong learning, and books are an essential part of this (as are relationships and active engagement with diverse people).

What struck me this morning is that beyond my insatiable hunger for reading and learning is a driving need to share what I learn with others. I don’t even greatly care what impact I am making; I speak persuasively, but people are going to listen and learn what they choose to, and I really have little control beyond what I communicate. While discernment has always been my primary spiritual gift, teaching and wisdom compete for second place, and I feel most “in the zone” when the three are working together. I just love “stirring the pot” with new or different ways of looking at things.

I am in heaven at People’s UMC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBZIao0a-NE); I cannot imagine a more open or interested group of people. If my preaching is turning people off, they aren’t telling me. But people who are enjoying my teaching and preaching are so kind and generous. They’d better watch out. I am having too much fun, and they may end up sorry they are so encouraging!

Categories: Uncategorized

3 replies

  1. I have seminary to thank for my love of reading. Hope that counters some of your angst over colleagues who claim to have not read since.

  2. On Thu, Oct 7, 2021 at 2:53 AM United Methodeviations wrote:

    > Dan R. Dick posted: ” I always love the subtle, but significant shift that > can come in the meaning of words by simply substituting one letter for > another. A horse can become a house, a mower can mow lower, while you may > lack the luck to lick a lock (whatever that might mean.” >

  3. Hello Pastor Dan,

    I’m an elder in the North Carolina Conference, and I’ve been reading your blog posts for years, mostly cheering, occasionally disagreeing, lately sighing – which is more a reflection of me than of your writing. As a fellow Greek Geek (or at least I used to be), I enjoyed this one, and I went over to YouTube and watched your worship service last Sunday.

    I don’t often watch other pastors preach (I think I’m too critical), but I enjoyed your sermon, listened to the whole thing…. although – although – I have driven myself crazy trying to find the Greek word for compassion in the lectionary passage. I actually dug out my old Greek New Testament, which wasn’t easy, and went word by word which was sad because I’m very much out of practice, and I could only identify a few words like Jesus, Kingdom of God, and “from the beginning.” Was the word for compassion actually in Mark 10:2-16? It doesn’t matter, as compassion is central to the Gospel, but I was just wondering.

    I preached on the same passage, but yours was much more a teaching sermon than mine, and I learned some things, so thank you. Mine perhaps was more obviously preached from a woman’s standpoint and was more about marriage in general. Our video is much less professional than yours, but if you’d like to hear my sermon, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJm5vPvE8A8&t=5s

    Our church, Massey’s Chapel UMC in Durham, is small. We were a rockin and rollin church with two great services (small sanctuary) before the pandemic but are now at less than half of what we were. We worshiped outside for a long time but are back inside, 100 percent vaccinated (or so everyone claims).

    Back when we were doing videos only, our bishop asked us (strongly) not to offer Communion in our worship videos; this command didn’t come until September of last year after a video conference with the theology profs at Duke who said we pastors were doing too much practical theology (what United Methodists we are!) and not thinking through the implications of what we were doing. How typical, how true. So we are not supposed to encourage people to join in at home. I cannot put my theological finger on it, but in your Communion service, I could not stand the sight of the blue gloves, face masks on you and your associate, and obviously people are using the horrid little cups. I keep telling my people that Covid does not spread through food, and gloves are the same as hands once they have touched anything…. I’m wondering why you do these things?

    If you watch our video, you can see that our doors are open, and the breeze is blowing candle wax all over everything. We have one of those super germ-killing air filters. The AC is running on high, and everyone except me is freezing. And we do wear masks except me, when I speak. No Covid among us so far, knock on wood.

    Anyway, thanks. I’m glad you’re back in a church and blogging again. Blessings, Cheryl

    On Thu, Oct 7, 2021 at 2:52 AM United Methodeviations wrote:

    > Dan R. Dick posted: ” I always love the subtle, but significant shift that > can come in the meaning of words by simply substituting one letter for > another. A horse can become a house, a mower can mow lower, while you may > lack the luck to lick a lock (whatever that might mean.” >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s