Sometimes I feel like the word “pastor” in our day has the same effect that “christian” did in Paul’s day when he testified “to some we are the aroma of life, to others the stench of death.” Where “pastor” can be a welcoming and inviting word, it can also erect barriers that are almost impossible to overcome.
When people find out that I am a pastor, I can almost see them mentally shift gears. Some topics that were previously appropriate are now taboo and a certain level of distrust enters the conversation that wasn’t there previously. I went from being a friend to an outsider in an instant.
I understand this to some degree. Many men and women have made a mockery of the profession, using it for their own financial gain or abusing the relational power and authority they have in people’s lives. Many now view pastors with the same suspicion that they reserve for used car salesmen… ‘What are you trying to sell me now?’
Finding ways to disarm such people is a fun way to pass the time, but I find that Jesus’ methods of eating and drinking with people seem to do the trick. Conversing with someone over a pint of Woodchuck seems to rattle their assumptions enough to at least get me the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, it almost always causes them to ask “Now what church are you a part of?”
Usually “the bad” parts of pastoring happen with family, friends and non-believers. But as long as I continue to follow Jesus in a non-hyped, non-legalistic manner, things seems to take care of themselves. It is a trickier business when believers get goofy ideas about pastoring, but we will cover that next time.