Radio Days: A Retrospective (Part 2)

Yesterday, I talked about some lessons I learned while working as a radio announcer right after college. One lesson I left for today. It has to do with dealing with people.

Although I didn’t have a call-in program, there were some individuals who had the phone number for the radio station because they had been calling announcers there for a number of years to request certain songs be played. I inherited that tradition. The problem was that I was introducing newer Christian music at that time; they wanted the old hymns. Now, I like the old hymns, but I felt it was time to broaden the musical tastes. I think I alienated some of them in the process, although I believe I treated each person with respect.

The other matter had to do with counseling. CBN had [and still maintains] a counseling center where people can call in and ask for guidance and prayer. It was advertised as a 24-hour center. Often, though, no one was available to cover the all-night shift, so what happened was they flipped a little switch and every call for counseling—anywhere in the country where the main program, the 700 Club, was playing—came directly to me.

Keep in mind I was a 23-year-old recent college graduate with no real experience counseling anyone. This was a challenge that pushed me to the limit. I remember one call in particular, a woman who said she was going to commit suicide. She had concluded it was going to be alright to do so since God would never leave her or forsake her. That’s not my theology. I spent a couple of hours talking with her while trying to keep other programming going on the air. She hung up, still determined to carry out the deed—I was distraught, to say the least. I never found out what happened.

I also had another regular caller, a young girl who apparently developed a fascination with me. It got out of hand. She started calling my home, and when my wife would answer, she would get abusive. We had to change to an unlisted number.

What did I learn? Christian ministry is not all glory. It is hard work. People are difficult. Yet through it all, I had to grasp this one essential: these are the very people Christ came to save. In spite of how they acted, regardless of their indifference toward Him and their desire to serve self instead, He still reaches out to them.

That’s a lesson I have to keep learning day by day. No matter how hard someone’s heart may be, there is always hope. I cannot change anyone, but I always have to be ready to say and do whatever God directs me to say and do.

My experiences in radio were indispensable for what I’m doing now. I’m thankful for the instruction I received. As I noted in yesterday’s post, God will take every experience and weave it into the tapestry of our lives today. Everything we have done has value.