Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why I'm a Pastor

About a month ago I remembered what my favorite thing is about being a pastor. About a month ago I remembered why I went into the ministry.

To be honest, it had been a long day, and I wasn't in a particularly affable mood. I had received a series of emails earlier in the day from folks from other communities, who were wondering why I didn't offer more "meat" in my sermons. Why I didn't offer messages with more "depth," more "complexity" more "Je n' sais quoi?" (I actually think the phrase they used was "Je n' sais quoi?")

Then, a very special woman came in to see me for counseling. My assistant told me that her name was, "Jane (we'll call her Jane), she is new to Highlands, she wants to tell you a few things that are on her mind." Now, just an FYI, I never like to hear that someone is just, "coming in to tell me a few things that are on their mind." That could mean so many things. It could mean that the person is preparing for divorce, has problems with theology, wants some Samaritan Fund Assistance, is upset about the volume of music, or wants to discuss details related to the fastest land mammal on earth - the cheetah.

When Jane entered my office, she had a semi-bowed head. I could tell from her clothes and the wrinkles around her eyes and the lines on her forehead and her lack of dental care that she had not lived the easiest life. Her $20 Walmart Jeans still had a tag on the back pocket indicating the size of her waist. Because, as I later found out, about her life-long struggle with annorexia and alcoholism (a double condition that left her wrent with nearly permanent vomiting throughout the day) her waist size wasn't larger than a 12 year old girl's - I think she was a size 5. Her clothes hung on her like the maniqjuin from the Walmart rack they occupied only hours before. But, it touched my heart deeply that she had purchased new clothes for her meeting with me. She asked, "Can I sit down?" "Sure," I said. We prayed - the first thing I usually do with all conversations. She said, "Well, I just wanted to tell you that I love your church, I love the music, I love your welcome team, but most of all I love your messages." "Thank you," I said. "But......" she said, "with a pursed lip, "I want to tell you what I most love about your messages." And then, this woman (and I don't want to generalize or condescend) who probably hadn't finished her high school education, or done much professionally with her life, and who had been married multiple times said, "What I like about your messages is that....I can understand them. I understand what you are saying. Thanks for making them simple enough, concrete enough, tangible enough for ME to understand them."

And then, I remembered why I'm a pastor. Why I went into the ministry. It wasn't to preach sermons with "Je ne sais quoi?" but to connect with people like Jane who never learned to read, but who wants so deeply to be read and loved by the One who made her,

All for Now,

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