Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thinking about your pastor this month?

Every so often I hear someone in the church or community make a comment that tells me that a common perception of pastors is that they aren't or can't be regular guys. One of my outside the church friends recently told me that one thing he liked about me was that even though I'm a preacher I'm a "regular guy". I took that as a compliment.

My guess is that perception of pastors being abnormal is because most in the church only see their pastors on Sundays being "pastorly". (Spell check tells that isn't a word, but I think you understand it.) You only see us when we're up front reading Scripture, praying and sermonizing. And in your minds, unless you see us elsewhere in "real life", if you don't stop and think about it, you might think that's all we do in life. On top of that, if your pastor always wears a suit or some kind of clerical garb at church, you might assume that's his wardrobe 24/7. And that's not regular.

My personal belief is that pastors are and should be seen as "regular" guys who happen to be called to lead and preach. We weren't born with Bibles in our hands. Our first words as little ones weren't "God bless you". We were teenagers at one time and had zits like everyone else.

I laugh when people see me in the supermarket or out and about and are almost shocked that I'm wearing a ball cap or that because I've been working in the yard I'm pretty dirty and sweaty. Some are even shocked to see me in a store at all. I guess they think I don't have to go shopping...that God sends an angel to my house every day with my "daily bread".

But the truth is I watch football on TV and I yell at the players if they don't perform to my expectations - just like the rest of you. If I eat Mexican food it tends to have a physical effect on me a few hours later - just like the rest of you. I have to pump the gas in my truck - just like the rest of you (except residents of NJ). I change the oil, cut my grass and put off repairs to my home too long - just like the rest of you. I stay up too late for my own good. I enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, but for me it's not a matter of life and death.

I love to laugh, hear and tell jokes, tease and pull practical jokes on my friends. My wife often has to tell me to pick up my clothes. And if I could get by with it, I'd wear the same pair of jeans every day for the rest of my life. I cry watching movies about dogs. I dream of retiring and sitting around at a restaurant breakfast table with other old guys drinking coffee and telling stories. (Wait, I do that now.) My grandkids bring me great joy, but I'm glad they live at other houses with their parents.

I can get angry, but try not to. If you ask me, Forrest Gump is probably the best movie ever. Braveheart would probably be #2. I only have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. And God works on me every single day. On the good days I respond the right way to Him.

The church is my calling and I'm passionate for her. I don't understand why others are not equally passionate. So, I get impatient when Christians take her for granted. I also get impatient with the cable company and the internet provider. I never get impatient with my wife. OK. Sometimes I'm not totally honest.

I hope this hasn't been earth-shattering news for you. If it has been...get over it. But let's be sure we neither judge one another because of our pre-conceived ideas. If you've put your pastor on some kind of superman pedestal, take him down from there. Not only does he not belong there, it's not where he wants to be.

Mostly he wants to be a friend who is respected and loved. Just like you.


Roxanne said...

For the first 30 years of my life, I had that concept of the preachers I knew. I was always scared they would actually say something directly to me. I never did see them anywhere outside of the "sanctuary" unless you count the front door of it.
After I became more involved in the work of the church, I did start to know my pastors on a more "regular" level. Honestly, in some cases that caused me to respect them less and learn less from their teaching, when I saw how they treated others during the week!
I am most happy to say that with all the pastors who shepherd me at NHC, the better I know them, the more godly I know them to be. It's because of how I see them caring for our church family, doing things with and for the church family that most people are never aware of, that I believe them to be men of God and that allows me to learn from them. I see them in social situations, and interacting with servers in restaurants and local people at county events, and I've never been disappointed or embarrassed by anything I witnessed. I respect and love them and would hate to think of going back to being afraid my pastor might actually speak to me!

Anonymous said...

What? You mean you don't levitate out of bed each morning, and glide your way blissfully through daily life? You sound almost...human!

Anonymous said...

Hmm...hope I didn't cause any confusion here. Just saw this and realized that it may have looked like I was speaking to Roxanne...I was just teasing Rick a little about his post! :-)

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about a conversation I had not long ago. One of the elders at church that I work closely with at our home Bible studies was telling me about why he tries to take opportunities to joke around, and keep things light when he can. He wants to be perceived as down-to-earth, and approachable. It's kind of ironic that sometimes, the more respect people have for you, the less they feel that they can really relate to you.