Pastor Appreciation Month!!!
BHO and JM are deeebaaatin' tonight in Nashville; and if there are no Edge of Night, Soap, or Soupy Sales re-runs on, I'm gonna watch it.
With JW, FF, WA, and the E Street Band about to get the keys to the White House, it's all over except for the re-runs rehashing how GWB killed JM's chances.
I think of an old saint who said to me for times like these, "Sometimes it's better to talk to God about someone than to talk to someone about God."
Speaking of debates, October is Pastor Appreciation Month.
Most pastors have about as much enthusiasm for it as America seems to have for 11/4.
Pass the Nytol.
The minority which hates me isn't the majority, uh, yet.
Actually, I am blessed with a family of faith increasingly invitational, welcoming, inclusive, and punctuated by agape; however, I'm also a mediator who works out deals for pastors/churches when things go, uh, south, which means I know the truth in what nobody wants to admit: "If you'd like to know what it's like to be a pastor, put on a deerskin and go walking through the woods on the first day of hunting season."
Here's an exchange with a California pastor who has been acclaimed as "the best pastor and preacher that we've ever had" yet was dumped so unceremoniously and unmercifully after almost 20 years of service for his younger associate:
Him: "Most pastors I know wish that congregants would simply respect
them, their office, and leadership 12 months a year, rather
than celebrate PAM. However, I think most pastors have
become so used to being disrespected and unappreciated
that they long for October's festivities."
Me: "Knowing how my predecessors have been treated and knowing
how some folks are always _____ and knowing the suffering
of some of our friends in ministry, I'm just not into it. I didn't
get into ministry for cash or kudos; and my expectations have
He's a mainline pastor; which means he knows the mantra: "Lead us! Don't lead us! Why are you so double-minded? Lead us! But if you try, we're gonna second-guess every..."
This is from a pastor who really knows his theology and the reality of total depravity captive to original sin: "I was asked at my first church, 'What are your ideas about changing the service, PASTOR???'"
His idea(s) was to stand up for the reading of the Gospel lesson: "I like this tradition."
He continued, "The patriarch said it wouldn't fly, so forget it."
The old church fellah went on, "All this is very interesting, pastor, but you don't understand. The people of this congregation just won't stand for the Gospel."
I think this one came from an Episcopal priest who is really smart: "Here's one of my favorite metaphors for the ministry: Spiritual Sewers / God's Garbagemen.
If you type in his metaphor in google, you'll get the story.
Too good, uh, I mean, uh, bad.
Actually, I like this metaphor: Modern Mainline Ministry / Babysitters for Hire.
A pastor in my judicatory wrote: "I get a kick out of PAM too...This is the time to honor and reward the pastor for all that she/he does...In reading the memoirs of many Presbyterian pastors, the one theme that resonates is the one you and I identify with so readily...the story of the church that expects much, gives little, and loves less...Most of us long for a church that loves more, gives much, and expects to make a significant difference for Jesus and the Kingdom...I guess we get what we deserve since we Presbys worship the dollar more than Jesus."
He concluded, "So the only thing I appreciate is not being appreciated. It makes those times when appreciation is truly expressed all that more special. But if they were to pay off my car, I might change my mind."
No wonder I like this guy!
Do you know most polls indicate over 75% of all pastors would relocate or change jobs today if they had a chance.
No wonder old Hans told Martin Luther to go into law.
And that was pre-Reformation!
Staying on politics, one of my doctoral students chimed in: "Palin is prettier than Fey in my opinion; just not as smart...Did anyone else get the 'Hey, Jude' thing?"
We agree on Palin/Fey.
As far as Hey, Jude goes, a mainliner asked, "Is that in the Old or New...?"
In the, uh, spirit of three sides to every story, here's something from a not really liberal friend/pastor in Florida who pretends to be liberal because conservatives annoy him so much and he didn't like me saying SP takes Jesus more seriously than her, uh, running, uh, mates: "We've just had a President who took Jesus seriously, but not seriously enough to understand that the issue of total depravity and original sin is especially prevalent in places of power...You really don't believe do you that we should work to Christianize our nation? Constantine and Calvin tried that and look where that got us. If it's rules, regs, and moral righteousness, then the Muslims have it all over us. Or maybe I just don't catch your drift. By the way, calling SP hot says something about your taste in women which I don't happen to share. You betcha!"
I just think Jesus is, uh, Lord and Savior; and that the world would be a lot better off if people loved liked Jesus.
I won't touch the Calvin reference lest the Westminster Fellowship come down on me and add me to their reprobation list.
You say tomato, I say...
An elder in a neighboring church who we could use said this about pastors who don't think Jesus is enough or really Lord and Savior yet continue to pick up checks from the church: "They do hear what they're saying but see nothing wrong with it."
So here's what I really think about PAM.
I appreciate my family of faith.
I love them and I am dying for them; but how they feel about me must not dissuade me from loving and dying.
My call is not defined by what people think of me or say about me behind my back.
Look up beruf sometime.
The kind of appreciation which means the most to me occurred late one night not too long ago when I was called out to see an older woman who broke her leg. After praying, her daughter said, "Pastor, it's good to know you love us."
That is enough.
It has to be enough; because, in our culture, that's about all we're gonna get...for now until then.
Blessings and Love!