Big Fat Hairy Deal

Remember the old cliche about a monkey on your back?
It’s often associated with some kind of addiction or character flaw.

I asked this question on Facebook yesterday: Everybody has a monkey. What’s your monkey’s name?

Some of the answers were serious.
Some were funny.
Some were flippant.

If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d try to answer with something funny or flippant too. If you are like me, your real monkey is serious, painful, and seemingly best ignored.

But, this thought leads us to some funny imagery… In a room full of people, or better yet, a church auditorium or sanctuary, we all walk around seeing the monkey on others while trying to ignore our own. And lest we forget, the readily available righteous indignation when someone happens to get a glimpse or fix on the monkey riding our back.

As it turns out, monkey business is never very funny for very long.

My monkey wasn’t/ isn’t alcohol or drugs. There was/ is nothing about mine that would suggest some kind of aberrant behavior. It wasn’t/ isn’t a family embarrassment. Nor the kind of monkey one shouldn’t talk about in polite social situations.

But, he was/ is a big monkey. Ape-sized. Bigger even. I think he had a previous life as a body double or stand-in for another famous Hollywood chimp type. You might remember him? The one who climbed the Empire State Building and swatted airplanes from the sky?

Did I say he was big?


Have you ever heard the term BHAG? It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I am beginning to develop one, but more on that later.

In the meantime, what I have had riding on my back was a BHFD.


That wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily my monkey’s name, but it sure describes his importance, or at least how hard a monkey to shake he has been.

My Dad has a color-pencil drawing in his office that a sweet lady did for him many, many years ago. It is a caricature of Dad sitting at his preacher’s desk with piles and piles of different kinds of hats. The drawing symbolized all the different hats–jobs, roles–Dad had to wear in doing ministry. Every preacher should understand that.

Likewise, my monkey wears a lot of different hats too.
Or rather, outside of the things he isn’t (see seventh paragraph from the top), my monkey (otherwise known as a big fat hairy deal) is a multi-talented creature.

He weaves an unbelievable tapestry of fear, doubt, worry, and lack of self-confidence.
The resulting picture is demoralizing, paralyzing, and capable of producing a self-sustaining debilitation.

He is pretty gifted like that.
I should know.
After all, he is my monkey.
I have owned him for a very long time.

But yesterday, he took a major blow. I heard him shudder. I felt his weakness. I sensed his grip losing its hold.

For years (even during the good ones) he has told me I am not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. He has painted me with fear, soaked me in doubt, infused me with worry, and convinced me that nothing I did would ever matter.

Add to that potent mix Satan’s mighty evil blow, and my monkey could have, should have had it all sewn up tight.

But contrary to my strongly held monkey belief, God wasn’t/ isn’t finished with me yet. He surrounded me with encouragers, provided the right opportunity, and helped me take the first step forward.

Yesterday, I shared my new found, hard won faith. (Thanks Meadowbrook!)
I preached.
And it felt better than it ever has before.

I am learning to never say never while my monkey is fighting to hold on.
I doubt I would ever be a full time preacher again, and yet, if the right place or people came calling, I would have to ask God what He was up to.

In the meantime, the big fat hairy deal is giving way slowly but surely for the big hairy audacious goal. I am daring to dream–really dream–that I have found my new ministry role/niche/voice to fill.

Thanks to those who have believed in me, found patience to share, and otherwise supported me. Your strength has made a difference.

The road ahead–though with plenty of setbacks and struggles still to encounter–looks brighter still.

Here’s the best part: If God is willing to work in my life, He is certainly willing to work in yours–and through all of our worries, doubts, fears, and perceived inadequacies.

You gotta like that!

If I can help you or your group/church, etc., please feel free to contact me.


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7 thoughts on “Big Fat Hairy Deal

  1. My heart is swelling for you. I wish we could have been there with you on Sunday. God has yet many amazing things to accomplish through his Les vessel. Maybe you DO have inadequacies (being human and all), but God does not and He is and will continue to work mightily through you, His servant.

  2. Les,
    I have been faithfully following your blogs. As you may guess, some were as hard to read as (I am sure) they were to write. But I think this one is the best yet. For what I am reading is HOPE! You have written about hope before but this one resonates with it. I know your struggle is far from over and you will have those dreaded bad days and blessed good ones….I can’t even begin to imagine the roller coaster you are on. I thank you for sharing this journey with us all. Les, to me you are and will always be a minister. You probably aren’t aware of this, but on the day of Karen and Cole’s funeral I traveled with Deby Carraway and her sister to pay my respect to you, Bob and Joan (Bob was my first boss and I just love them!). After the grave side service, Deby and her sister wanted to go back to the church to fellowship with folks they have known throughout the years going to church in Vicksburg. I knew nobody there except you, Bob and Joan, which I was okay with. But what stands out to me was after I had gotten my food and I came outside, I stood there looking for a place to sit and you (I am tearing up thinking about this) called to me and invited me to sit with you. You shared stories of how Casey became a part of your family. Stories of when you were in the Navy and when you got the news of Cole’s diagnosis, how you got home. I remember sitting there totally amazed by you. On what could only be one of the hardest days in your life, you, my dear friend, were ministering to me! You are a ministry….I purposely said ministry instead of minister because that’s how I see it. I believe that when someone goes into the ministry it is because he or she has been called by God. It is very obvious to me that God still has some major things for you…..even while you are struggling with Him. Again, thanks!! You really are amazing!

    • Thanks Darla. That means a lot. I actually thought you were ministering to me by sitting and and letting me talk.

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