WORDS FROM W.W. May 8, 2014
I’m not paranoid…no matter what the voices behind me are saying!
Call me a “reflective observer!” Yes…I like that term. It sounds like a quiet parent at a child’s athletic contest…somewhat an anomaly, I know, but still possible.
My reflective observation, however, is in the bleachers watching our culture’s annihilation of pastors and clergy. Different arenas have different strategies for making this happen.
Last night I was watching one of my favorite shows on TV after I got home from a nice thirteen hour day of ministry. The day was a typical assortment of appointments, meetings, visits, planning, leading a study group, and getting details taken care of. As I watched the TV show (on DVR, mind you!) a “preacher” entered the picture of the episode. He was even referred to as “Preacher”, not pastor, but I don’t think our culture differentiates between those who names…and very rarely is preaching seen in a positive light any more.
The preacher in this episode put a bad taste in the midst of my popcorn-chewing mouth as soon as he entered the picture. He was loud, condescending, and superficially pious.
As the show went on the preacher’s ulterior motives came out. He was really a drug-pushing pimp using his church as a front to line his pockets with cash. It reinforced stereotypes. That is, pastors always have dark secrets in their past, or selfish motives for what they are doing in the present.
Rarely does TV convey pastors as either intelligent or faithful. Such ingredients don’t make for exciting TV. Who wants to watch someone who actually walks his talk?
Self-disclosure here: Some pastors DO annoy me and act like jerks, but those things don’t necessarily come with the territory.
But that’s not the only way clergy are getting pancaked!
In recent times a number of pastors of mega-churches are walking away from their flocks because the demands are killing them. A phrase that one pastor used was “mouse on a spinning wheel”. He was always moving ahead, but stuck in the same spot. His church was growing by leaps and bounds…as were the demands on his time. His success made him an in-demand speaker at conferences. He was being sought to write a book.
He gave it up! Spent! Used up! The red light was indicating “Empty”!
So just as the media casts a picture of the devious preacher fooling the flock, the church so often crushes pastors with their flood of issues and needs.
For many people that are involved in churches it isn’t intentional! Most people in congregations love their pastor to death. But every congregation has a section, small or large, that doesn’t care as long as they are cared for. The toll that clergy face for some church attenders is like filling the environment with styrofoam cups. Everyone knows it isn’t good ecology, but I need my coffee!
Clergy self-care is becoming a much bigger issue in pastor circles these days, mainly because a huge majority of pastors are self-less. Needs of their church attenders are held as a higher priority than the pastor’s own health…and pastors surrender. If a pastor was the only one in a lifeboat he might still jump out to safe…the boat!
Our culture, most of the time, doesn’t understand these things, and, sadly enough, very few of our congregations do either.