RIGGS MINISTRY MINUTE: When there’s only a minute for ministry. www.docriggs.com 16 August 2012
Yesterday morning I took our dogs out for their walk and as I returned I saw this lady sitting on our garage door. As if she were deep in her morning meditations, she sat motionless waiting for her prey to get within reach of those long front claw-like arms.
According to Wikipedia the general type of mantises are “ambush predators. They camouflage themselves and stand perfectly still. Then they just wait for their prey to stray too near. When a target does get close enough, the mantis then strikes at remarkable speed, in fractions of the time it takes people to blink. Some ground and bark species, however, pursue their prey. Prey items are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs. The praying mantis usually holds its prey with one arm between the head and thorax, and the other on the abdomen. Then, if the prey does not resist, the mantis will eat it alive. However, if the prey does resist, the mantis will eat its head first, and then carry on with the body in pieces.”[i]
If you are a regular reader of Ministry Minute first, Thank You! Second, you are no longer surprised get a somewhat different approach to ministry than perhaps with some devotional reading you have done!
The praying mantis got me thinking. I wonder how often prayer requests or prayer chains are more about spreading some good gossip more than they are about really praying for the person. Before long you might have someone prey-ing for you rather than praying for you! Now, before anyone begins to speculate, “No, I have not recently been the subject of such (of which I am aware). I’m just thinking out loud here.” The Apostle Paul had a concern for those in the first century church that they were falling in to the snare of gossip. In his letter to young Pastor Timothy, he speaks of those who have cast off what they first believed and “…they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”
You see, the praying mantis first camouflages itself and remains perfectly still. Gossip is the same way, camouflaged as concern for the person of whom they are about to share some juicy piece of information as a ‘prayer request.’ Then, the mantis, once it has its prey in its claws two things can happen based on the action of the trapped prey. If it doesn’t resist, it is eaten alive. Perhaps if a person who is gossiped against doesn’t speak out against the lies, they are consumed by the gossip about them. Perhaps their ministry is torn apart and cannot continue. If the prey does resist, the mantis bites off its head to stop the resistance. If the gossip analogy is accurate, then the target of the gossip, if they speak out and defend themselves, they may be cut off at the head. Idle gossip becomes vindictive slander with a purpose to destroy that which it has targeted. Gossip is death to a ministry.
Paul was concerned about such behavior and we should be also. Be on the look-out for praying that is really preying. Speak only good one for another in order to build up and not tear down. The praying mantis is cute from a distance and you can even hold it. The little fellow just seems scared but if you could see its face…