You Talkin’ to Me?

It’s a line that has been repeated in movies and comedy sketches over, and over again: “You talkn’ to me?

The line “You talkin’ to me?” was made famous by a young Robert De Niro in the 1976 movie Taxi Driver. Have I seen the movie? Well, no I haven’t; but I know the quote very well. I have to say it all the time (figuratively, at least).

As a Parent

I was a kid, once. I was not born yesterday. When my children try to fool me into thinking that they have it all figured out, that they know better than daddy, they sometimes open their mouths and say things they regret.

One of my nearly deceased daughters says, “It’s not fair that I have to do the dishes tonight! I did them last night! You don’t do anything, so I’m NOT going to do them!” To which I reply, “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to ME?” She lived, but it was close.

As a School Bus Driver

Please sit down,” I asked nicely. “Would you please sit down,” I would say again in a stronger voice. “NO!” came the reply from the 10-12 year old kid with a real problem. “Look, you have to sit down and put on your seat belt so we can get going.” “Then I guess we’ll just have to sit here!” came the reply. “Sit down,” I said, with my blood pressure rising, ” and put..on..that..seat..belt.”

For your information, the bus I was on that day was a small bus (a special needs bus), and the sweet little child was a young boy with a serious attitude. He had already cursed his mom repeatedly on the way to the bus. He didn’t want to go to school that day. But when he finally got on the bus, it was his intention to make it hard on everybody. There was nothing physically wrong with this child. He had behavioral issues (nothing a trip behind the wood shed wouldn’t have cured).

Put on that seat belt” was met with a sweet response from the Justin Bieber-like demoniac. With a middle finger proudly uplifted and a smirky grin on his face, he said, “____ YOU!”

Silently, in my subconscious I said, “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?!” With my teeth clinched, having had all I could take of this nonsense, I leaned over to within 3 inches of this kid’s face and said, “Your gonna have to do a lot better than THAT! Sit DOWN!…NOW!!” He did.

As a Husband – 

To my wife I say, “You talkin’ to me?… Honey?

As a Pastor

Recently I preached a sermon from one of my favorite books in the Bible. As matter of fact, I preached from one of my favorite verses.

Nehemiah 6:3 KJV – “And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?”

Nehemiah had set out to do the impossible, but with God’s help and calling on his life, the task was almost complete. It was at this point those who couldn’t scare Nehemiah off the wall tried a different tactic – compromise. “Come down for just a little while, and let’s talk about this,” they would say. “Nehemiah, we’ve called a special meeting to discuss the future of your ministry, so we need you to stop what you’re doing and have a talk with us.

Nehemiah sent them a response, via a messenger, “You talkin’ to me? YOU talkin’ to ME?”  Nehemiah knew they were up to no good, and to leave the work would be disastrous. Nehemiah was doing a “great work,” and he knew it. He knew that was were God put him. He knew compromise was not an option. He knew there was no reason to discuss other plans.

As a pastor/preacher/teacher, Satan knows that I have been called to do a great work, also. He knows that I am called to a ministry that is critical to the lives of many, many others. Sometimes he tries to offer me things to do that pay more money, offer more security, or stroke my ego. He tries to convince me that I am better than the people I pastor – that they are only dragging me down. He says, “Anthony, let’s talk about this.”  I say, “You talkin’ to me?”  Then, when he gets too close, I pull out my Sword and whack  him with it.

What About You?

God has called each of us to a great work. Not only was Nehemiah on that wall, but a lot of others on whom many were depending. People are always watching you. They are always looking to see what you will do in tough situations. They’re always watching to see if you think the work you’re called to is “great,” or just another rung in the ladder of success.

But you say, “I’m just a nobody doing nothing important.”  Well, maybe, if you are not where God wants you. But if you are following after His plan for your life, then wherever you are, it is a “great work.” So, the next time you are tempted to follow after the things of the world in order to satisfy some immediate desire for self-gratification, remember that Nehemiah faced the same choices. You may have to send a message to your own versions of Sanballat and Tobiah (bad guys in the book of Nehemiah) saying, “You talkin’ to me? I’m doing a great work, so why should I bother to come down and even talk about it with the likes of you?

Like Nehemiah, there’s a work that I must do
A work so great, I can’t quit until it’s through
When my strength begins to fail me
And the world tries to deter me
Give me strength that I may finish the race that I must run
I’ve got a wall to build before I’m done.
– Anthony Baker

~                    ~                   ~                    ~

I met Pastor Anthony Baker through blogging sometime last year, although I can’t remember who found who first. I’m just thankful that we “met.” He has been a source of encouragement and help to me over these past months, and I’m thankful for all the laughs and disagreements we’ve shared. Pastor Baker has written a guest blog for Grow Up! before, which you can read {here}. He also blogs faithfully over at The Recovering Legalist. Please visit his blog and let him know you stopped by.

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About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. His tombstone will read, "I Can't Believe He Actually Said That!" Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him.

Posted on July 15, 2011, in Guest Post and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. My personal stories of “You talkin’ to me?” have generally ended with people losing jobs, losing children, and/or being arrested. I do not handle stupidity well, especially when children are involved or you threaten the disadvantaged in any way. I guess I have inherited my mother’s passion to protect!

    One of my favorite stories (that demonstrates to people why you do not make certain people angry) is from when I was a child. It had nothing to do with me personally. It did involve my mom, though … actually, she involved herself. A family friend called the cops when her estranged ex-husband showed up. It turned out he was friends with the cops, so they tried to arrest her. My mom verbally ripped those cops new ones to the point that one of them was crying.

    One of my favorite church stories comes from early in my transition to Arizona. A church I had been attending is one of those trendy, laid-back, “we-have-a-coffee-shop-in-our-church” kind of churches. The pastoral staff was truly good at their job, though. For a few weeks (just before switching to a Saturday service and three Sunday services from just two on Sunday) the seating was getting filled quickly. Some people had to stand. An elderly couple arrived one Sunday morning and could not find a place to sit, which is sad as they both had walkers of some sort. Many people visibly moved so that the couple could NOT sit down near them. Finally, a single mother with four children (her husband was killed in Iraq just weeks earlier) scooped up two of her children sitting in chairs, thus making it so that she was holding three of her children! When one of the associate pastors asked one of the people who did not move why, he and several others asked why it was thier problem and maybe he should find another way to deal with it.

    He did.

    The next week (my second to last week there, as I moved to the Phoenix area two weeks later) this pastor was preaching. My favorite part of the sermon was this line: “If you think you can come here to get coffee and wander in to hear the message whenever you feel like it; if you think you have ownership of that parking spot outside; if you think you can honk at the golfers across the street; if you think you deny your brother or sister a seat because it is more comfortable for you to let a single mother suffer for the cause of Christ, then why are you even coming to church? I would suggest you save us all the embarrassment and stay home so that we can actually hear God.”

    That may sound a little mean, but in the full context of the situation and the sermon it was AWESOME! Also, last I heard, that church has doubled in size in the past four years and planted a few new churches, all of these with a focus on discipleship, worship, and compassion for others.

    • Dan, both stories in your comment were awesome. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall that particular Sunday. Although, I’m curious if those people even knew the pastor was talking about them…. ehh.

      “I would suggest you save us all the embarrassment and stay home so that we can actually hear God.” <– awesome. Quite frankly, I wish more preachers would preach like this, instead of being worried about "offending" people or trying to up their attendance numbers. Truth.

  2. Thanks for that story! I wish more pastors would do things like that. I, for one, have little patience for pettiness. Stuff like that makes me sick and angry.

  1. Pingback: Check It Out | The Recovering Legalist

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