What I learnt from stand up

Adam Tomalin

Recently I’ve been busy with... going to comedy shows! Yes, seriously! It’s a wonderful platform for performers to express their views in front of people who they don’t know and then attempt to make this funny. For this reason, it also makes it one of the most precarious, tenuous and risky platforms too!

When done well, stand-up comedy really is an art form. It requires the ability to express yourself in a clear, composed and articulate manner in the midst of a massive cauldron of the unknown. Some of the comedians I’ve come face-to-face with have taken the stage by storm, mostly for good reasons. These comedians have demonstrated a wonderful ability to communicate well, be funny (in my opinion) and also address topics that get people thinking more about certain issues. I take my metaphorical hat off to them!

A large part of my job involves being able to communicate well. I’ve been utterly fascinated, intrigued and often blown away at how some of the comedians I’ve seen have been able to communicate so well. Watching them has been quite an education for me as well as a good opportunity to have a laugh with friends. I’m always looking to communicate better with people – to grow in my ability to be more engaging, bold, composed, eloquent, sensitive and understanding.

I’m in job where I give much of my time to communicating the truth of the gospel in as clear a way as possible - and training others to do the same. As a Christian, it is my joyous duty to speak the truth of the gospel – whether that is to a member of the youth group, a university student, a church worker or anyone else. My actions are also to communicate the gospel. I have plenty of opportunities to do this but the challenge that remains is - how can this be done well?!
 
There are a few lads in our youth group who are going through a particularly hard time at the moment. They have had a particularly hard upbringing and have struggled with the tension of a whole range of different influences in their lives - from parents, to church members, to gang leaders, to school bullies. Yet I rejoice that they have the opportunity to engage with the relational God through his word. The hope that holds out is magnificent. Through the trials and the tests and the hardships, these lads can look to one far greater who knows all of their pain. They can look to the creator and sustainer of the whole universe. They can look to Jesus – fully human, yet fully God – a man who laughed, cried, was mocked, scorned, betrayed, forsaken. He knows what it’s like to experience pain and sorrow to a level that many of us will struggle to imagine. And this God died and rose again so that death is crushed, evil loses, hope conquerors and love wins. Death is swallowed up in victory and these lads can know that there is no grief without hope. They can have a certain hope of a glorious future in the midst of short-term uncertainty in this world. They can know a love in a world that often seems to have forgotten the true meaning of the word. 

Because of these lads, I want to grow in my ability to communicate the gospel better. I can see the change which it’s had in my life and in the lives of people around me. God is the one who changes people and my ability to communicate will never hold the power to bring this about. But I can be an instrument in his hands. I need to be dependent on God throughout it all - I would never want people to think that I have the sole ability to transform through mere human logic. 

Let me encourage you to keep depending or even to start depending on the author of creation and the one who longs to communicate with us and use us to communicate his love to others.

Adam Tomalin is on a short-term placement with Crosslinks, spending two years serving a church in South Africa. Find out how you can do the same!