Archive | June, 2013

Scared Straight Pastor Edition

20 Jun

So you wanna be a pastor? Big man on campus. That’s you, huh? Standing up there in front of everybody. Holding your bible, preaching to the people. I can see you now  scooting around the stage, dancing to the “Amens” and applause. Mr. Pastor, Bishop, Reverend, Elder, Preacher Man. Yeah. I used to be like you. Let’s take a walk. “Where are we going” you ask. It’s a little place I like to call “Reality”. I been living there for the last 15 years.

Look at this. What is this? I know what you’re thinking. It’s a blank piece of paper, right? Wrong. It’s a list of all the friends you have at the church you serve. Not hard to remember their names is it? Ministry is a lonely place, buddy. If you are looking to make lots of friends you are headed down the wrong road. Here’s the deal. The people you like leave and the ones you don’t like will stay. You’ll think you have friends. When you start at a new church they’ll invite you over for a BBQ and board games. But the truth is the first ones to ask you over are also the first ones to ask you to leave!

Look at those guys over there. You know who they are? They’re deacons. I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking “They are here to serve the pastor”. Yeah that’s right. Serve you like a tennis ball. Truth is they’re the cold water committee, the dream busters. They are going to make sure you don’t get too excited about growing this church. They’re the head of the puppet ministry and they think you’re the puppet.

And by the way. Your mother goes to this church. And you have eight of them. Word to the wise “I feel like you’re one of my children” isn’t a compliment. It means she is going to tell you what you should do and it would be in your best interest to listen to her. This church believes in church discipline….but only for the pastor.

Listen. You hear that? Sounds like a bunch of fifth graders upset over a game of sandlot baseball doesn’t it? It’s not. it’s the Wednesday night business meeting. And it happens every month. And you get to be the referee. Oh the stuff is real important too. You get to earnestly contend for the carpet color. You’ll be able to sleep so well on Wednesday nights after Betty and Bertha duke it out over what to serve at VBS.

What’s that? Where’s your wife? Oh…she’s busy. Trying to figure out where she fits in to all this. Yeah she’s standing by her man. But she’s also standing by that phone hoping someone will rescue you all from this. She’s in a town she doesn’t know. She is keeping nursery kids she doesn’t know. She is biting her tongue. She is cleaning a house that she will never own. She is concerned about what the church thinks about her kids, her yard, her involvement with the church. She’s pretty busy. Don’t be surprised if she goes to bed early. 

Oh, wanna hear a joke? Too bad. Because you’re going to. And it’s going to be the same jokes over and over. Jokes about fried chicken, being the first in the line at the potluck, only working two days a week, getting your sermons off the internet. My advice would be learn how to laugh like Fran Drescher & do it every time you hear one of those jokes. They won’t stop but they will slow down a little.

I wanna show you something else. Look in there. It’s dark isn’t it? You can feel the heaviness can’t you? Loneliness exudes from that place. No, that’s not rain. That’s tears. You know what this is. It’s Monday. It’s the day you get the most negative phone calls. It’s the day you remember how much you butchered yesterday’s sermon. It’s the day you remember a church full of dry eyes and an empty altar. It comes every week. Fifty-two times a year Monday shows up just to say “Ha-ha-ha-Hi”. You will leave the ministry countless times in heart on this day. Statistics show that if you ever do quit it will most likely be on this day.

Listen up. It’s tough in here. you ask why am I here then? Because God called me & I couldn’t be happy anywhere else. And that’s the only reason you should come.

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Ladies, Was I Wrong?

1 Jun

Sometimes when you are a pastor you do things just because you are a pastor. That happened to me today. It was  a 70th wedding anniversary celebration. Now I don’t really know the happy couple, but I have met them. They have family members at the church I pastor. I was asked to go and decided it would be a good idea.

I entered the celebration with my lovely wife. She was all smiles. She is pretty amazing at things like this. She has a way with people that I don’t possess. Seated at the entrance was the bride of 70 years. We greeted her. Her husband had stepped away to get something to drink. We signed the guest book and made our way through the crowd. I am uncomfortable at these affairs. I only knew a few people. I just kind of follow my wife’s lead. After all, she’s the pro. So we floated from group to group making small talk. My wife finally found a branch she was comfortable sitting on for a while. A couple from our church that she enjoys talking to was there. So she camped out with them.

I have serious concentration issues. I spied a local pastor sitting at a table with one other person. I decided that would be a great place for me. I located some thin layer chocolate cake, punch and other goodies. I loaded up and joined my friend. After a good conversation and some finger foods I decided to find my wife again. It wasn’t hard. She was standing in the same place with the same folks. She also happened to be near the cake. There were a few different types of cake. I began to think about all of them. About that time my wife decided she would get her a plate.

I was pretty full. But I began thinking about how good all those deserts must be. I couldn’t eat anymore at that point. But I knew that tonight would be altogether different. I would gain my appetite back. So I began to reason with myself. I thought it would be a good idea to make a sampler plate. You know, get a taste of all the deserts.  Before I knew it I was stacking up deserts. In fact I stacked up three plates. I figured we were about to leave when I finished stacking my plates. In my mind I could see myself just easing out the door with my delicacies.

I met back up with my wife. She looked at my three plates and then looked at me. It wasn’t a good look. She asked why I had three plates. I explained it to her. She wasn’t impressed. And she wasn’t ready to go either. So for the next twenty minutes I walked around with her and my three plates. Amazing how people don’t make eye contact with you when you are holding three plates of desserts. Finally she was ready to go…and I definitely was.

At the door was the happy couple. That’s when I realized my plan wasn’t so great. I hadn’t spoken with the groom yet. I boldly approached the door. He recognized me and began to speak. Then he looked at my plates. And he just stared. I think he must have stared for five minutes. I broke the silence with something about him running off before I could speak to him. My poor wife just stood there horrified. As we exited the buildings there were folks lining the hallway. Each of them took a peak at my “to go” plates.

 

 

It was a pretty long ride home. My wife gave me some major lessons in etiquette. In her words “If you don’t see any aluminum foil you probably shouldn’t take a to-go plate”.  I understand her point. She explained that regardless of what I thought, people did notice what I was doing. She used the phrase “I can’t believe” about 65 times I think. I will consider her advice. But ladies, what do you think? Was I wrong?