Friday, May 18, 2012

Ten Things Pastors Should Probably Not Whine About

There has been a blog post floating around among my clergy friends that really frosts my cake!  I know being a pastor can be hard work.  I know preaching can seem like an overwhelming task at times.  But really?  We are blessed to be a blessing.  Whining is not a part of the call.  And so, in response to "Ten Things You Forget About Pastors," here is my amended list. (The black is the original blogger, the red are my responses.)

1. Preaching is a lot of work.
I should hope so!  Like many jobs, preaching is something that has more hours of preparation than presentation.  Consider teachers, musicians, cooks, lawyers, just to name a few.

2. Preaching is stressful.  If you mess up in your job, your boss might get upset with you. If we mess up…God is upset with us. I’d rather get the stink eye from your boss than mine any day.   This theology totally offends me.  If God is a preacher’s boss, wouldn’t you rather have the all-gracious Lord as your critic than some human being who could yell at you, embarrass you or fire you?

3. Preaching has a lot of moving parts.
We feel the weight of preaching the Scriptures faithfully, in an engaging way, every time. We have to balance humor, theology, and application, making sure to pepper in just the right number of illustrations, but not too many so that people remember the illustration and not the Truth. That’s a lot to balance on a small stage.  Whining, pure and simple!  See #1.

4. We don’t always have it all figured out.  If the people you are preaching to think that you know everything, then there is something screwy going on.  Even children should be invited to understand that the pastor is a fellow traveler on the journey of faith.

5. We get worn out, too.
Delivering a sermon is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Expect that we’ll be pretty zapped afterwards.   Again with the whining.  After you take your nap, rethink this one. 

6. If you tell us some important detail on a Sunday morning, we’ll probably forget it.  For some people, Sunday morning is the only opportunity they have to talk to the Pastor.  The fact that it is an “important detail” means that as pastors we need to try harder not to forget.  Carry some post-it notes and a pencil in your pocket.  Or text yourself.  Put the burden on you, not them.

7. Preaching is a gift, but it doesn’t always feel that way.
Some jobs always feel like work-  never feel like vocation.

8. Criticisms need to wait.
Seriously, if you have a bone to pick, call us on Tuesday. We’ll be in a much better spot to handle criticism then, than on your way out the door on Sunday.   There is a lot of ego involved in this one!  You are telling someone to complain when it is more convenient and less embarrassing for you.  You are not inviting them into a more thoughtful conversation, just a time that is more expedient for you.
9. We see you texting.
Don’t act like you’ve listened to our sermon…we know better.  Again, check your ego!  Stop being so sanctimonious.  What were you thinking about when you should have been focusing on the liturgy or the lessons?  Personally, I am guilty of thinking through grocery shopping and all kinds of mundane stuff while standing at the altar.

10. We have to do it all again next week.
Tell it to the dairy farmer, trash collector, factory worker, retail clerk – and see what they have to say about repetitive work.