** Updated 25 Feb 2019
The characters created by A. A. Milne have charmed and delighted children and adults for decades. The beauty of his stories is the ability to see ourselves—for better or worse—in the characters. Church members are no exception.
Churches are generally made up of four types of people: joyless participants, exuberant worshipers, religious buzzkills, and the childlike believer. These types are depicted by Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, and Pooh.
Eeyore: the Joyless Participant
Eeyore, after constructing his new stick home, gloomily extols the virtues of his new domicile. Dreariness and melancholy shine darkly from Eeyore’s face. While he did what he had to, joy and hope remained absent.
Many Christians approach worship with this same attitude. They go through the motions, fulfilling their obligations and duties, yet possess no joy in their hearts. For whatever reason—cynicism, burnout, depression, etc.—their souls are empty of the joy and peace God promises all his people.
Tigger: the Exuberant Worshiper
Tigger epitomizes a joy for life. Hardly is there a moment when Tigger isn’t exuberant and happy, always wearing a smile, and having fun. He loves life and invites others to join him.
Every church has worshipers who go all-in in their worship. Oh, they may not be jumping pews, raising hands, or kneeling every few stanzas, yet joyful praise exudes from them. Their spirit is at peace, and their hearts are excited at the thought of being with God once again.
Rabbit: the Religious Buzzkill
Rabbit is tired of it. Tigger’s bouncy, joyful attitude is too much. Rabbit fails to tame Tigger until Tigger is rescued from a tree. Only then is Rabbit able to strip all the joy and happiness from Tigger, insisting he be more reverent, or at least less passionate and animated. And the result of Rabbit’s success is the lack of joy in everyone’s heart.
Every believer has encountered (or maybe is) this person. They don’t understand or appreciate the exuberate praise of others. They insist the rules be followed, decorum be maintained, and any semblance of over-excitement be contained, even if it means stifling worship or hindering the Holy Spirit.
Pooh: the Childlike Believer
Pooh approaches the world with curiosity and trust that things will work out. He goes through hardships, but doesn’t quit. He strives to do what is right while helping those around him be better people. Pooh is curious, always seeking to grow in knowledge, yet maintain a carefree spirit.
These believers are the standard, but not often the norm. Believers who are like Pooh trust God in all things, even when burdened and frightened. They strive to show love to all others, helping them become better people and more faithful Christians. They balance joy and reverence in their worship, approach God with a child-like spirit, and are always seeking to grow in Christ.
Which One are We?
Churches today have too many Eeyores, Tiggers, and Rabbits, and not enough Poohs. Often I see people approaching worship and ministry out of mere obligation, unwilling or unable to be joyful. Then there’s the Christian Tiggers, allowing their joy and excitement to overtake them to the point that they disregard all else. Then there’s the Rabbits who tend to focus on rules and rites, trying to ensure everybody (especially the Tiggers) are kept in check.
We don’t need Eeyores, Tiggers, and Rabbits; we need Poohs.
Pooh is the perfect balance of joy and reverence, hope and caution. He shows love and shares hope with others. He is at peace and full of faith.
Which character are you? Are you Eeyore? Are you Tigger? Maybe you’re Rabbit? Hopefully, though, you are Pooh.