Posted tagged ‘preacher’

Returning to the Old Pulpit

April 28, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    April 28, 2019

           

I did not do a General MacArthur when I retired from pastoring at the end of 2015. I did not say “I shall return!”

I had no thoughts of returning! After 36 and a 1/2 years of pastoring I was fried, fricasseed, roasted, and toasted! I knew it was time to move to the side. So I did! Just about anyone in any profession prefers to go out on their own terms, as opposed to being told it was time to depart. Not that I had anyone who wanted me to take a quick exit and leave them alone, it’s just that there were some days I wanted to be left alone! That’s when I knew it was time!

This morning I return to the old pulpit. Back in August the church asked me to come back and speak at their 60th anniversary celebration. Six months later Pastor Reggie, who also happens to be a friend of mine, asked me to come and speak again, and now, three months later I’m speaking again. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the time between speaking engagements keeps being reduced by 50% each time.

It’s with mixed emotions that I speak in the place where I delivered about 750 sermons over the years. I loved the people, and still love the people. I remember the baptisms, like when the baptistry had a leak and Jacob Lundquist gave a shivered moan as he was dunked into about 8 inches of ice cold water; or Barbara Shepherd getting baptized at the age of 80. 

I remember the Sunday we served donut holes for communion, and the Sunday I made the unwise decision to give two children’s stories during the service. By the second story it was like herding cats to keep the kids all together!

I remember our seniors group, called The Ageless Wonders, who kept me encouraged; the young guys group who took me camping; and the Saturday Morning Men’s Bible Study group that encouraged each other in the journey as men of faith.

I remember the tears of heartache and the hugs of healing. I remember the losses of life, the funeral services for the departed; and I remember some Sundays where there seemed to be a loss of congregational life. 

I remember the folk who caught my vision for ministering to the community around us and others who wouldn’t be caught dead in any ministry that reached outside the walls of the building.

There were people who loved Jesus and others who loved the church…and still others who loved Jesus and the church. A fourth group simply loved the free coffee and donuts!

By the end of 2015 my level of cynicism had risen to an unhealthy level even for a Baptist! It took a few months into retirement for a healthy perspective to re-emerge. 

Pastoring is like a marathon race. It needs a nice steady pace, not an opening sprint that results in a long exhausted walk! 

So today I return with a different perspective, an old guy who has been humored by the past two years of substitute teaching with middle schoolers. The challenge of teaching 7th graders what is really important in life is similar to getting church folk to believe that the gospel is more important than the Denver Broncos.

Oops! Here comes that cynicism again!

Crushing the Sermon

July 2, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   July 2, 2014

 

                                   

 

I’m a pastor.

I’m suppose to be humble.

Last week a young guy from my church who makes me laugh in a good way asked me the question, “Do you ever come home on Sunday afternoon after church and pump your fists as you shout ‘I crushed that sermon today?’ Do you ever say ‘I was awesome?’”

    Yes, that happens all the time! And then my wife says, “And honey! That second point was off the charts!”

And then I dance around our kitchen like an NFL wide receiver who has just scored a touchdown…taking a Sharpie out of my suit coat pocket and signing the bulletin with it!

And then my wife falls down in front of me in recognition of my pastoral celebrity status, and tells me how blessed she is to be married to such an awesome sermonizer!

I relive the message highlights the rest of that day, and several times during the day I remind the rest of the family that “I was money” that morning!

I call my dad and tell him how Jesus was giving me high-fives that afternoon in the nap dream I had.

I put my “Orange Crush” jersey on with the number “1” on the back with a finger pointing heavenward, and my “playing name above it “Rev. Crush!”

“I crushed it, God!”

Oh, going back to the question my young friend asked me at the beginning: Do I ever come home from church and exclaim “I crushed the sermon today?”

 

The answer is “no”…and thus none of the other things I wrote above occurred as well!

I just come home and start getting ready for the next Sunday. After all, I’m a pastor. I’m suppose to be humble.

And I’ll admit there’s been a few Sundays where I’m come home and said “I crashed the sermon today!”

Villain Pastors and Victim Clergy

May 8, 2014

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.

Drinking Coffee With A Bad Tongue

June 14, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 June 14, 2013

This morning has its challenges! I’m trying to drink my first cup of coffee. That’s not usually a challenge, but today each sip does not have that soothing effect.

I got drilled yesterday in the mouth! No, it wasn’t a bar fight, or…bringing back some bad memories…I didn’t take a softball in the jaw.

I went to the dentist, and before she drilled me she gave me about eighty shots to numb the back of my mouth and close to my tongue. Even though that was yesterday mid-afternoon, this morning my tongue is still feeling the effects. It feels like it laid out in the beach in the sun all afternoon, and now anything that touches it gets a reaction.

Let me take another sip! (pause)

Ouch! Still sensitive.

I feel like Napoleon Dynamite whining about Chapstick.

A friend called me after I got home from the dentist yesterday. I sounded like Sylvester the Cat trying to properly pronunciate. “T’s” are hard to pronoun when you have a bad “t’hongue!” Sufferin succotash!

Some might ask why I’m drinking coffee if it is painful? Because it is a part of my daily routine. It’s what I do! It is a little weird tilting my head to the right and trying to swallow with the caffeine avoiding the left side of my tongue, but I’m halfway through my mug and I’ve only screamed like a baby once.

My fear is that I’ll still be talking this way on Sunday. My message will have so many “thou, thine, and thy’s” in it that I may start talking that way out of habit. It’s “thertainty” a possibility.

What happens when it’s hard for a preacher to preach? What happens when it’s painful? You preach carefully.

This coming Sunday will be an experience of that, not because of my “thongue”, but because of the week we have had here. Hundreds of homes destroyed in the Black Forest fire…memories of the Waldo Canyon fire from one year ago almost to the day…lives altered. When it is hard for a preacher to preach you preach slowly and carefully. Sometimes the preacher doesn’t even need to speak and his words are heard.

The lesson that I’m experiencing this morning of a sensitive tongue may be a personal teaching moment. I long for a little comfort in my mouth. There will be people gathered in worship on Sunday who will long for a little comfort from my mouth. Words that are felt as they are preached become a cool drink of water on parched souls.

I need a “thrink.”