Last year, while visiting California to tape a tv show at Trinity Broadcast Network studios (TBN) in Santa Ana I stopped by to visit the iconic Crystal Cathedral. Just weeks before, the legendary church called my cell while I was at home and inquired if I wanted to preach a Sunday sermon or give my testimony on world-wide television. Literally, I almost fell off the couch!! At TBM, I am familiar with Paul and Jan Crouch but now with Crystal Cathedral I am off the couch 🙂
The Schullers’ were in a transition and their grandson had just taken the reigns to carry on. The Catholic Church of California had just bought it and now Crystal Cathedral was sadly moving out across town under a new name and new era. The church called me back noting that scheduling wouldn’t allow me to be part of their service after all due to them being in final weeks of their ministry in that building. It was a tad dissapointing but still an honor they called. Since childhood, I wanted to see firsthand their beautiful edifice in Sunny California. So after stopping by the L.A. Dream Center and my friends at TBN, I was able to finally visit the Crystal Cathedral.
LESSON ONE: Honestly, it was tempting to not even visit since the invite was revoked. However, it was grace that they called to begin with. Getting to Heaven is a ONE WAY street but on Earth it is a two way street. We constantly need to check our attitude and motives. Plus, if we stay BITTER its hard to be a BLESSING.
The church was gorgeous and it was still very modern for being built in the 1970’s. Tours were closed for the day and I noticed a janitor alone in the state of art facility and I knocked on the glass door. He told me that they were closed for the day and to come back. The catch is I wasn’t able to come back. My flight left in the morning and I asked if he could just let me in to see it firsthand. He graciously opened the door and we began to talk in the massive sanctuary alone. At that moment it was us. Just him, Jesus and me. It was an honor to be there for those few fleeting moments. Before leaving, I asked if I could do anything for him and he said: “Will you pray for me?” I was touched and without missing a beat I placed my hand on my new friend’s shoulder and prayed for him. He had tears in his eyes and asked for my business card and gave it to him and like Elvis “I left the building.”
Periodically, he (janitor) has called me from time to time requesting prayer and its usually when I am on the road getting ready to preach somewhere. Sometimes, I wonder did he not feel close enough to the pastoral staff to ask for prayer or did he just feel super comfortable with me? Out of the blue, he called again last night. It has been at least six months but I smiled when I saw the area code display on my phone and for some strange reason I knew it had to be him (janitor). He was impressed that I would remember who he was and the irony is I am humbled that he would reach out to me. Once again, he said “Pastor Frank, will you pray for me?” We find more POWER in PRAYER than in the PENTAGON and it was a JOY to pray for him and his family.
Initially, I thought God by His grace and constantly surprising me of His plans would have me go to the Crystal Cathedral to speak to a couple thousand on a Sunday service and it air the following week via television to untold millions. However, God spoke to my heart that I was to visit the Crystal Cathedral to not preach or teach but reach this ONE soul. Looking back, that may have been one of my best sermons and hands down a eternal lesson to learn in both Lordship and leadership. I love that quote: “If we are too big for the “little things” than we will be too little for the big things.” God is no respector of persons and when we honor Christ when no one is watching we will most likely do it when a few more are watching.
During my days, on Capitol Hill we had a policy that if a constituent called we had 24 hours to return the call. In a letter, we had less than a week to open it, read it and respond. Some Members of Congress have survived election repeatedly not because of their policies but their consitutuent service. Being on the road, we have had the privilege to connect with a variety of folks ranging from homeless to Hollywood, common folk to Commander in Chief and everyone between.
In life, regardless if a janitor or “J-Lo” it is imperative that we realize that success is not in crowds but Christ and not ministering to the masses but pausing long enough to connect with an individual. To the world you may be ONE person but to that person you may be THE WORLD. Five years ago, it was a treat to be a guest on TCT “Rejoice” Television in Marion, IL. When I came in the Lord had me intentionally go up to each cameraman, producer, janitor and host individually and say “hi.” They placed me in their Green Room and after a tad of make-up I was ushered to the set. The producer was counting down to go “LIVE” and the camera people adorning their head-seats were ready to roll just as the theme song played over the speakers. The lights came up and the Holy Ghost came down and the Lord showed up!
After taping the broadcast, we exchanged pleasantries, took a picture and I started to leave. As long as I live I will never forget what happenened next. A precious African American woman who was running one of the cameras grabbed me with tears welling up in her eyes and asked if I would step outside with her. Curious, I said in the words of Balboa “Absolutely!”
Now her eyes resembled Niagra Falls and she not even concerned whom else may be watching or listening looked me straight in the eye through blurry vision because of the tears said “Evangelist Shelton, I have been employed here for nearly ten years. I have anonymously run that camera for years and we have had some of the biggest names in Christianity come through our studio and as the tears continued to dance off the floor in the hallway trying to catch her breath she said: “YOU WERE THE FIRST GUEST TO EVER LOOK ME IN THE EYE, COMPLIMENT ME ON MY WORK AND THANK ME FOR MY MINISTRY.” She said: “TODAY, YOU MADE ME FEEL IMPORTANT AND I WANTED TO TELL YOU PERSONALLY THANK YOU!” Needless to say, we both were crying at that moment and by God’s grace and her talent at work allowed me to speak to the masses on television but God’s grace and displaying Christian class and common courtesy allowed me to minister to her. When it was over, she actually ministered to me.
LESSON TWO: I have no idea how to run a camera. Some think I don’t think I know how to speak when on camera but the fact is without her doing her job and excercising her gift for God’s glory I couldn’t effectively do mine. It is a TEAM effort and we need to compliment each other NOT compete of ever dare appear superior to another. The higher God takes us the lower we must remain. Plus, The Bible says: “Some have entertained angels unaware.” Sometimes, I wonder if that janitor isn’t Jesus. The Bible also notes: “Many whom are first will be last.” Therefore, we need to be nice to EVERYONE we meet. One it honors God and secondly, we may hope they say hi to us in Heaven. In life, I have learned that God is great and the “greats are gracious.” Just because we have a ‘big’ platform doesn’t mean we cannot accidentally live small. Dr Johnny Hunt said: “The Christian doesn’t have the luxury to be unkind.” We are never bigger not when speaking on stage but connecting one at a time. Jesus fed five thousand one night and ministered to a wounded woman at the well the next. To her, it was the greatest night of her life. Sometimes, we can be so busy doing ministry that we fail to minister to those right next to us. Tomorrow, don’t start the day wanting to change the world. Try to bless an individual and the rest will take care of itself.
APPLICATION: As a servant and speaker, I try to bless the crowd when ministering but like the pic above ZERO in on just one chair and try to bless that one individual. Ironically, by God’s grace and Holy Spirit together they will be blessed and the crowd comes along for the ride in the process. Have you ever heard the expression, it was as if they were speaking directly to me? Well, when we focus on individuals even the crowds sense it. Plus, its always for an Audience of One (God) and souls are saved and lives transformed individually.
One Life. One Love. One Touch. One at a Time.