Maturing or just a new job title?

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach at Arlington Heights UMC.  It was the first time I have preached at AHUMC on a Sunday morning in quite some time (I think this was the first time this year).  Granted I preach at our Friday night worship most weeks and I also preach very often at Grace UMC, but Sunday morning at AHUMC is much less often.

While I am unclear on the specific date, I know that the last time I preached a Sunday morning sermon at AHUMC was when I was the "youth minister".  In February I stepped into a different role as an "associate minister" after the appointment of Rev. Raul Gutierrez.

In the weeks to follow the sermon I was told by more than a few people something that has me thinking.  While all different, they each said something to this accord:

"I want you to hear this as a compliment as it is intended to be.  Your last sermon on grapes I saw a very real mature voice come out than other sermons.  I saw you had your edge but it was an edge that came appropriate for adults and not the sort of 'shock' that comes with teaching youth.  Great job."

This is indeed a compliment, but it got me thinking about the fact that perhaps there is something to this to consider.

I am not going to deny that I am maturing, I think we all are all the time, but I do think that I would have preached the same sermon years ago.  In fact, this sermon I thought I was being rather 'shocking' (telling people to stop random acts of kindness, scolding church when it is like the T.V show "Cheers", saying we all might be wild grapes that God does not intend to grow, etc.).  Yet, many people have shared that it was "mature".

I guess I wonder if it is really me that is maturing or if people are just hearing me differently now that I am no longer the "youth minister"?

Grace UMC has never commented these sort of compliments and I have been preaching there for over a year.  Grace UMC also does not know me as the former "youth guy" but only as their "minister".  I wonder if people of AHUMC are hearing me different, in part because, I have a different role/job title/function in the life of the community?

And if so, then I wonder what sort of things we are not hearing or seeing because they come from the mouth of one for whom we deem it 'inappropriate' to say or point out such things?

Perhaps that is why Jesus thought that adults should look to children as a good model for living in the Kingdom of God but we just cannot see it.  I mean what do kids know about the Kingdom of God?  They are just kids.  And yet when those kids grow up they are no longer 'kids' and we are more likely to listen to them - even if they never really change what they are saying.

Or perhaps this is why Jesus says that a prophet will not be accepted in their hometown because we have a hard time disassociating the person from their past role/function.  I mean what person would listen to Jesus talk about loving one another when they knew Jesus when he was "a punk teenager"?

Can only those who break from the past can see the present?