My husband and I are taking the helm of a group at our church. It is called Growth Track. I have mentioned how service is HUGE at my church. (Should be at all churches, but that ain’t my business – strike that yes it is, we are called to serve…get to it.) The short version is that this program takes people through the essentials of what the vision and mission are for Centerbranch. In the course of this, you have an opportunity to join the church, to evaluate your talents and personality and get plugged into an area of service. I cannot tell you how excited I am do be a part of this. Meeting people, hospitality and the potential to maybe cook for them some too. (Still evaluating the last item, but we will see.) The other aspect I am looking forward to is getting to know the Pastors better as people. I have to confess though…I have a slight case of Pastor Paranoia. It sort of looks like this:
I think a lot of us have that instinct to tense up a little when the Reverend comes around. We tend to put them up on a pedestal or we think they are evaluating our every action. Some pastors seem to do just that. My oldest son recently shared that he visited a church in North Carolina and the Pastor told him to come back dressed appropriately for services in the future. (paraphrased) My son is on shaky ground where faith is concerned, discouragement was not needed. We, the Body of Christ, need to be about what is on the inside, not the outside. Likewise, a lady came to my church today at my invitation. (So excited about that!!) I prayed with her, but she didn’t want to go to the alter because of some personal insecurities. I was able to honestly look her in the eye and tell her, it was ok and no one would care about that issue, we just cared about her. She still did not go to the alter, but we prayed together. I cannot imagine the negative impact on a person if a Pastor, congregant, or greeter “corrected” them and sent them away. Where is God’s love in that?
I also grew up with a bit of the hell, fire and brimstone approach to saving souls. Everything you did wrong, you were going to hell. I suppose it was the evangelical version of “Scared Straight” but in my case it ended up being “Scared Off”. How can you pick apart my life, when you are not leading by example. I do not expect perfection, but have you ever tried to understand the love of God and joy in his presence from a Pastor that looks and acts like Oscar the Grouch (His countenance, he was never green)? So now that we know my Pastor Paranoia is set in my youth I can tell you that a Pastor focused on saving souls and building the kingdom, really doesn’t have time to pick apart your life. Obviously, if he sees you running toward the cliff with scissors in your hand he is going to stop you but he/she is not going to nit pick every facet of your existence.
Here is the thing, our Pastors…all of them, are the most approachable, likeable people you will meet. Even their wives are kind and sweet. (Not grandma sweet, feisty sweet – that sounds weird, but you get the idea.) In truth, one of the pastors was so upbeat every time I had encountered him, I honestly did not know how to take him. (Seriously upbeat – almost perky, but not quite.) Back when that almost bothered me, I could not fathom the differences there would be in my life in a few short months. I have more joy than I can express and to someone who doesn’t know God and have the baptism of the Spirit, they won’t get it. Life did not suddenly become magically perfect for me or any one of these people of God I speak of, our burdens were lifted. The struggles are there but we have GAP – God’s Assistance Plan.
Back to Pastor Paranoia. I even confessed to a friend, I feel awkward trying to speak to them (the Pastors) sometimes. She then pointed out a key component to me. “They are probably scared you will blog about them, maybe they are being awkward and you are just picking up on it.” I am not saying that is the case, but Pastor Luke does get regular mentions due to me talking about sermons. I would love to promise I will not mention any of you in the blog, but if I talk about church, one of you are likely to come up. (I’m sorry – I promise to be nice.) It also dawned on me, in the past, my “Pastor Paranoia” came from a “does he know what I’m really doing?” mentality. As you can tell, I sort of overshare in my blog at times. Not like I have anything to hide anymore.
There is another reason I want to get over this awkward conversation feeling. Have you ever seen “Mom’s Night Out”? The pastor’s wife was so excited to be invited out by a group of ladies she could not contain herself. I don’t think we have that issue in our church for our Pastors and their wives, but I want to be comfortable enough to make sure it is not an issue. I have been good friends with a few Pastor’s wives and they are often left out. I am not sure if people just forget, don’t want to impose or are afraid she will run report to the Pastor everything that goes on.
Today, in the sermon one of the remarks was about us being on level with Jesus. To be brought equal with Jesus, it is right there in the Bible, but still kind of mind blowing. Being on a comfortable level with the leaders of your church should be a piece of cake. If we are all being brought equal with Jesus, are we not then equal with each other?
So…to my Pastors and their lovely families. I look forward to getting to know you better. You all do a great job and the impact on my family alone is proof enough to me, but the impact goes far and wide. Please feel free to call me out on this post, pull me into awkward conversations that make me act like a kid in the principles office. I’ll get through the growing pains and learn something too. Thank you for being willing instruments in God’s hands.
Since I cannot promise to never mention my Pastors, I give them consent to use whatever I blog about so long as it is for the purpose of saving souls or making people laugh. I will turn BRIGHT red if I am present but there will be no hard feelings. After all it is only fair. (Besides, whoever reads the post script but writers?)