Oct 112013 12 Responses

Warning: Objects in the Pulpit Often Appear Holier Than They Actually Are

According to Forbes’ Magazine, I have the happiest job in America.

It’s believable. Show me a profession in which a person is surrounded by more people who love him (or at least pretend to love him), doing a job with such profound meeting, and regularly hearing stories of how people’s lives are different because of what you are doing.

No doubt the pastorate has some difficulties, but it’s truly a blessed life.

While studies show it’s the happiest profession, experience tells me I have the strangest job in America.

No doubt, other jobs have strange moments:

  • Nic Wallenda walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope while wearing mom jeans is odd.
  • A doctor stitching up a man after a vasectomy is unusual.
  • A cop getting urinated on during a drug bust is strange.

Other jobs have odd moments, yet what makes the pastorate unique is the speed in which we transition from one situation to the next.

From birth to death, bankruptcy to financial success, from weddings to funerals and everything in-between, a pastor is invited in, or forced in, to every possible scenario of life.

Consider an average Sunday morning.

Having just preached and shaken a few hundred hands, I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone about a serious life issue when my 5-year-old runs up and shows me what he just made in Sunday School: (if reading by email click here to see the photo)sunday school photo

If you just laughed, you could never be a pastor.

Straight face, the person speaking to you has a life falling apart.

Straight face, the kind church lady who thought of this craft does not have a mind which would ever go where your mind just went.

Straight face, your 5-year-old is very proud of his “project.”

“Do you know what it is Daddy” he asks.

“Help me,” I respond.

“They are glasses,” he says.

What runs through my mind is “I guess they are Hebrew glasses then because they are uncircumcised.”

I was trained to parse Greek verbs (and fake my way through parsing Hebrew verbs), but no one trained me in what to say while holding a Popsicle cut-out resembling genitalia from my 5-year-old while talking to a middle-aged lady in spiritual turmoil.

This is the perfect illustration of the pastorate.

And it’s fascinating.

It involves the strangest collection of people possible. The church is like Wal-Mart meets the DMV meets a city-wide 4th of July celebration meets the ER.

This is my life.

The pulpit is like a side-mirror in a car. It should come with a warning: “Objects in the pulpit often appear holier than they actually are.”

I know a lot of pastors. Most of them are good people, with loving hearts, who work every day to help people.

None of them are perfect; every one of them is a real person; and each one stands in desperate need of grace.

People assume perfection with pastors. It’s a sad assumption. Even more sad is the number of pastors who like the facade of perfection.

No doubt it is a job which is easily faked. A person can move far from home, change jobs with regularity, and never let someone really get close to them. Do this and the pastorate can be easily faked.

But faking the pastorate is not a fun life.

I prefer a different way. Instead of feigning perfection, I openly admit my need for grace.

Pastors probably need grace far more than they preach it (and they should preach it a lot).

Life is too strange, the pastorate too complex, and I am too imperfect to ever give the air of perfection. So why not give the air of someone who needs grace?

Do you know why I love Community Bible Church? They believe so much in grace that they even lavish it on their leaders. It’s easy to give grace to the person which we expect little from. It’s much harder to give it to the people to whom we expect much. Yet, unless a church gives it to all members, it really gives it to none.

And so I laugh. In the midst of the trials and tears, in the midst of the hardest of life’s situations or the most mundane of duties, when something funny happens, I laugh.

The byproducts of that laughter are these Funny Friday posts.

Enjoy. Happy Friday.

12 Responses to Warning: Objects in the Pulpit Often Appear Holier Than They Actually Are
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