Why I’m Pro-Laugh

9 Jan

I am unashamedly pro-laugh. Now don’t misunderstand me. I know there are times we shouldn’t laugh. I’m not going to laugh if your cat dies. I don’t think we should laugh at funerals or natural disasters. There is a soberness that must characterize the preacher. But I am also pro-laugh. The context of this blog is church. I am in my 15th year of vocational ministry. I have been to church virtually every Sunday (AM/ PM) and Wednesday of those 15 years. That’s a lot of church.

It hasn’t been easy. There have been great and wonderful seasons. But there have been trying ones as well. I can honestly say that some of the meanest people I have ever met, I met in church. To be fair, some of the best people I have met have been there as well. But it’s those mean ones that really stick out. Let’s be honest. No one leaves the ministry because of all the nice folks. Frustration comes from the difficult people.

There was a time when I really let things get to me. I still allow some things to get to me more than I should. But I have learned to cope. Now I allow myself to laugh at what I see in church. I can almost feel the critical eyes reading this blog:

“People missing heaven ain’t funny!”

“Sin ain’t funny!”

“Spiritual ignorance ain’t funny!”

“Heresy ain’t funny!”

Chill out man. No one said it is. Good grief. But here’s a head’s up for us all. Church is full messed up people. I wrote about that in “Hello My Name is Church”. These people are going to aggravate us. Really dumb things are going to happen at church. Some of these dumb things are done to us, others are done by us. Dumb things are going to happen. Let me give you some examples:

* A guy shows up for the first time at your church. He is wearing a Dolly Parton T-shirt and carrying a guitar. You ask him “What are you doing?” He explains to you that he is going to play for the church. You tell him he isn’t. He tells you your church is horrible and he will never step foot into it again.

* Your wife misses a little church because she just had a baby. A rumor starts that you don’t allow your wife to attend church.

* You are sitting in your home (the pastorium) and a church member just walks in without knocking. After all she is a church member and the house belongs to the church.

* You mention a secular song to make a point in a sermon. Afterwards someone asks that you never do that again because it tempts them to go back into the world to live a life of sin.

* A church member says to you “That’s the reason me and you can’t agree, because you believe that book.”

These are just a few. All of those things were frustrating to say the least. I could let them really get to me. I could stew and stew until I burst. I have been tempted to do that. I have almost done that. I know folks who have given up because of the silliness and frustration of ministry. By God’s grace I have been able to hold on. I think one of the reasons is because I am pro-laugh. I’m not happy that any of these things happen. My laughter is more about the silliness of people. I’m a thinker. So I will sit back and analyze a situation. Almost always I am able to come away with a smile.

Social media is a lot like church. The Unappreciated Pastor gets rebuked regularly. In fact I just got rebuked as I was writing this. I tweeted earlier:

“ I’m convinced if you can’t laugh at what happens at church you’ll leave because of what happens at church.”

 Some guy said

“Church isn’t a place to be “at,” but Christ’s Body on Earth. And when it meets, it should be no laughing matter.”

I have no idea what he is even talking about. He looks like a sensible person. So I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I have to assume that people at his church laugh. I would hope they do. So how am I going to respond?  I’m just going to laugh. In fact I find that I laugh the hardest when someone yells at me on social media. That’s a lot better than starting a Twitter war.

I had a Calvinist bid me farewell and yell at me today because I said last night “I guess one of the strongest arguments for Calvinism is The People’s Choice Awards.” She went off on me about straw man arguments and such. I was baffled. That tweet is a Pro Calvinist Tweet!  The point was “Look what you get when you give the people a right to choose.”  She just didn’t get the tweet.

I think that is usually how it is in church. I think most people don’t get how silly they are being. It takes patience to be in ministry. It takes courage as well. But I am also convinced that we must be willing to laugh at ourselves and others. Not “Ha, Ha” but more of a “Oh man, this is so crazy” laugh.

I’m pro-laugh.  If you’re not I’m sorry. But I’m going to keep laughing. Laughing takes the edge off of the tough parts of ministry. Look at Twitter. Why are church parody accounts so popular among believers? Because they help us cope. They make us laugh. And not many people quit while they are laughing. Let’s be serious about the Lord, but not take ourselves too seriously.

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18 Responses to “Why I’m Pro-Laugh”

  1. Leah@Embracingrace.com January 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Truth! Every word. My husband and I are thankful for your humor. We look for it every day in our newsfeed and frequently say to each other “Did you see what Unappreciated Pastor said?” A few months back when you posted “I think Monday is a deacon,” we were hooked.. I’ve sent a lot of my blog readers (pastors’ wives) your way. We need the humor to keep us sane! 🙂

  2. Paul Sterrett January 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    I’m pro-laugh too. In the first church I pastored, a lady pulled me aside after I’d been there for about 6 months and told me she didn’t appreciate my using humor in the pulpit. Now, I’m very careful about the humor I use when I preach. I don’t try to be a stand up comedian. But I often use funny stories or a little humor where appropriate. So I was taken back by this lady’s comments. She was a nice person, with a pretty pleasant disposition. But, as with most things that I find silly, I just kind of laughed it off. I told her that I appreciated her input, and I hoped my using humor didn’t keep her from being able to get something out of the messages.

    Imagine my surprise a few months later when she nominated as a Revival speaker a friend of mine who was well known for his use of humor when preaching. In fact, I had told him about her upbraiding me right after it happened. When I issued the invitation for him to speak at our Revival Services, he said, “Well, I’ve got some new material that I’m sure Sister ______ will enjoy!”

    We had a good laugh.

  3. Tim Davis January 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    From one laughing pastor to another, let me just say I don’t think anyone has ever said this better. Reading this was a great reminder for me at just the right time. BTW, here’s a bunch of the flames I have gotten for my online fun – http://www.cybersalt.org/letters/hall-of-flames/

  4. Mary January 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    The ability to laugh at ourselves is a great gift and certainly makes life a lot more relaxed .. And FUN … So keep on laughing pastor 🙂

  5. Amy January 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Ditto

  6. Anita January 9, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    I have shared you with my daughter and her husband, new to ministry (almost 2 yrs. now). Keep writing. I won’t take offensive at your laughter, and I will even try to join in.

  7. Glenn Rider January 9, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Well said! Someone today said this sounded like maybe I could have written it. I wish I had! Let’s just keep on laughing!

  8. Tammie Diggs January 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    I’m pro-laughter as well. In fact, the funerals that stick out to me are the ones I laughed at. I hope that people laugh at my funeral for sure.

  9. Bill Kruppa January 10, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    In my mind when Christ talked as coming to Him as children I don’t think there was an implication of somberness–in fact quite the opposite. The children I work with (including my own) bring me no greater joy than when they are laughing and enjoying time spent together…perhaps, no guarantee but perhaps, Christ feels the same way when we spend time with Him and enjoy it. IMHO

  10. Ken Davis January 10, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    One of my all time favourite statements to me – “The only reason God put you in the ministry was to show you that you shouldn’t be there” And then there is this gem – “Your sermon reminded me of something Benny Hinn said last week.”

  11. Dale January 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    GOOD stuff — often times, I find that humor may drive the point home even better than my serious, well-placed statements (as if there are any of those)…

  12. pastorlinzey January 24, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    This was awesome 🙂 Laugh on, brother!

  13. Norm Miller January 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    This post is outstanding.
    My dad (career SBC pastor) was criticized for his fingernails being too long.
    Another pastor friend had to resign b/c too many ppl were being won to the Lord thru the FAITH evangelism program. Really, it’s true.
    Please keep observing analyzing, thinking and writing. God’s gift to you is His gift to us.
    We are blessed b/c you write.

    Norm Miller
    editor/moderator, SBCToday

  14. The Crooked Tie Clip February 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    This was awesome! I follow you on twitter because I get a good laugh with you most of the times. Other times I just roll my eyes. Growing up as a Fundamental Baptist Missionary’s Kid, I saw plenty of this stuff:

    $7 Love offering for a family of six who drove 2 days to share our mission with the church
    A pastor treating my dad like a pack mule because he was “paying him to be here”
    A pastor calling our home church to say my dad was a white supremacist

    One of the ways that I’ve been able to stay in church (same church my whole life) is being able to laugh past it and forgive people.

    Now I just need to subscribe to your blog now. Good stuff so far!

    Isaac

  15. Доминион (@D0MINI0N) February 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Courage is the foundation of all virtue.

    The Dolly Parton guy…might have been good.

  16. debmcfarlin March 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Loved it. Thanks for your honesty and sense of humor. I also am a pro-laugh-er. My husband and I pioneered a church and I have more preachers/pastors in my family than you can shake a stick at. We have plenty of stories to laugh about or to shake our heads about!

  17. Linda March 5, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Voltaire said God is a comedian playing to a room full of people who are afraid to laugh. Keep at ’em brother!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Five Blogs Worth Your Time | Fallen Pastor - May 16, 2014

    […] 2. The Unap­pre­ci­ated Pas­tor — If I give this blog a shout out, I’m appre­ci­at­ing it. So I’m con­flicted. But it’s hard not to love it. It’s writ­ten anony­mously, which is how I got started. His humor is com­bined with mate­r­ial to make you think. I love it. Sug­gested post to start with: “Why I’m Pro-​Laugh.” […]

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