I had only been pastor at Rolling Hills Baptist Church for a few years when a local newspaper reporter came by to do a story on our annual candlelight service for grieving parents. She picked up a copy of our newsletter from our Welcome Desk and a few weeks later reached out to me. “I like your newsletter column. This is the kind of writing we need. Would you like to write a column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette?” I responded with a hearty “You bet!” That was over 80 columns ago.
My Pastor’s Blog will mostly consist of these newspaper columns. So I will gradually post them all (in reverse order) and I hope you enjoy reading them.
“Pastor without a Pedestal”
On a recent visit to the hospital I met a church member and her friends in the pre-op area. To help her calm her nerves, I decided to tell her a story about my carpooling adventures that morning:
“So on the way to school, after waiting several minutes at a stoplight it was almost my turn. But just before I made my way through the intersection, someone cut in front of me. I slammed on my brakes (thank goodness for seatbelts and car seats), spilled my over-priced coffee drink and, worst of all, missed the light.
“I managed to separate what I was thinking from what I said: ‘Well, that driver didn’t want to wait in line, did he?’ The kids, oblivious, continued their debate about whether or not the Red Mega-Power Ranger was more powerful than the tooth fairy.
“So I dropped the kids off and headed here to the hospital. I was at a stoplight and, looking in my rearview mirror, I saw him. The guy who cut me off. Hmmm. So when the light turned green…I waited. And waited. And waited. And just when it turned yellow, I went through the intersection, leaving him behind to wait for the next green light.
“Ha-ha-ha!” I laughed, amused at my own story. But why am I the only one laughing? After an awkward silence, she looked up from her hospital bed and said, “Well…aren’t we blessed to have a Pastor we don’t have to put on a pedestal!” Nurses entered wondering why we were laughing so hard.
I’ve been scratching my head ever since. Do I want to be on a pedestal or not? Do I want to be a faultless example of rightness or do I want to be a person of faith who struggles just like everyone else?
This is what I’ve decided: Being there for someone, whether they need prayer before an operation, someone to cry with or simply need something to eat means a lot more to them than whether or not I drive like Mother Theresa. Reflecting Christ to those around me requires I step out from behind the stained glass curtain and meet people where they are. Should I have made that guy wait at the stoplight? No. But being honest and telling this story to my congregation might help them unravel some of their own mistakes.
It’s been asked, “Should a church be more like a museum or a hospital?” The churches with the greatest impact, in my opinion, are the ones that accept the fact that they are a club for sinners. Let’s drop the pretense, start being honest and demonstrate to one another the same gracious love that God has showered on us. Besides, we really can’t go anywhere when we are on a pedestal anyway.
And maybe, just maybe, the next time someone cuts in line and makes me miss the green light, I’ll let God take care of the karma –and I’ll remember the love and patience He has shown me.