I had a tropical fish tank in my room when I was in middle school. By the way, that’s not the kind of thing you tell people to make them think you’re cool in middle school. Eighth grade girls don’t really care about how the angelfish keeps nipping the other fish’s fins, or about how you got some new neon tetras over the weekend, or about how well the Plecostomus (sucker fish) cleans scum off the sides of the tank. But while it might not be cool, watching a fish tank can be a very serene experience, and after a long day battling teenage angst, Algebra, and acne, you need all the stress relief you can get.
Aquarium ownership was also a learning experience for me. One important thing I learned is the way one introduces a new fish to the tank. Sure, you can go with the “dump’em in” method, but that generally doesn’t go well. Just ask countless ill-fated goldfish won as a prize at the county fair, only to be found belly-up by morning. The better method is to “ease’em in” by placing the plastic bag containing the new fish into the tank and letting the temperature of the water in the bag match the temperature of the water in the tank. After a while you can simply open the bag and let the well-adjusted fish swim out into his new environment.
This past Sunday we as a church had the opportunity to meet our new Administrator, Gordon Ogle, and our new Interim Pastor, Dr. Bob Terry. I encourage all of us to continue to welcome them warmly, get to know them, but also to extend grace by allowing them time to get acclimated. Both men are very experienced in ministry and working in a church, and while in some sense most churches are the same, each church has its own unique environment. Learning that environment can take a bit of time. Matthew 7:12 states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Remember, all of us have been “new fish” at one time or another, and needed a little time to adjust. Let’s thank the Lord for these new additions to the fish tank we call North Shelby Baptist Church. And whatever you do, don’t nip at their fins!