Among the bad habits my parents attempted to undo in my brother and me (mostly me, to be honest) was overuse of the phrase “I know.” For a time it was the readiest answer I had for almost anything.
“Scott, it’s time for dinner.”
“Scott, please take out the garbage.”
“Scott, Grandma got drafted by St. Louis in the fourth round as a utility infielder.”
My response, of course, had nothing to do with knowledge. It effectively meant, “Stop talking to me.” My parents were wise to discourage these declarations. They were rude. But there was a subtler problem. Wanting to be seen as someone in the know is a great enemy of actually acquiring meaningful knowledge. And not only does a flippant “I know” stop the flow of information between people, it stops the even more essential process of allowing oneself to be known.
Until a few months ago, I’d never entered a search process. In fact, I think my only proper job interview (i.e., one involving coat, tie, and use of the awful term “human resources”) was with a greeting card company one summer in college. And I didn’t get that job.
Such was my very narrow frame of reference when I traveled to Memphis to meet Calvary's search committee. I assumed there would be a fair amount of mutual sizing up, some circling at a close distance like cautious boxers, eyeing each other for weaknesses and openings. Suspicion seems implicit in the interview model. But nothing could be further from what I experienced.
I thought I’d have to prove to these strangers what I know. But almost immediately I found myself being lovingly and actively known. The stock questions and hypothetical situations where these conversations invariably must begin were all set aside quickly. In no time we were talking about matters that mattered to us all. Offering our experiences and hunches and questions to one another as if some new insight about what it means to be the Church in downtown Memphis might arise from the encounter.
I’m telling you, the rest of Calvary parish, about the way this faithful group of people went about their work because it made all the difference to me. I could have felt like Rector Candidate #32, summoned to prove himself knowledgeable. But to a person, they made me feel like Scott, Christian person worthy of being known.
St. Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It still startles me awake. He admits that there is a lot we just don’t know. But Paul says fuller knowledge, deeper knowledge, more meaningful knowledge in this life is intimately connected to the experience of being known.
There is still so much of Calvary that I just don’t know. I so look forward to learning your gifts, your callings, your quirks, your passions. But most of all I look forward to discovering what God will call forth from all of us and for the sake of the world as we take up the sacred work of discovering one another.