Pastors Are People, Too! (Sort Of!)

     Would you believe it if I told you that I eat, sleep, laugh, cry, go to the store, mow the lawn, even (gasp!) use the bathroom facilities on a somewhat regular basis? I know…hard to fathom, isn’t it? There is an interesting perception of pastors in our country. If people see me on Sunday morning, suit and tie, primped and primed, ready to lead worship- no problem. But when people see me at the grocery store in jeans and a t-shirt- it’s another story! They have a hard time putting me in context! One day, I was IN THE CHURCH, at a music rehearsal, with jeans, a baseball jersey and a baseball cap that was, at the moment, on backwards. I came around a corner, face-to-face with a parishioner. She didn’t know who I was! Then, it hit her and she said, “Oh, I thought you were one of the high school kids!”- to which I promptly thanked her! I actually had a former parishioner say once, “Well, Rev. Whosywhatsit wore a shirt and tie to mow his lawn!”, as if to say perhaps I needed to follow his lead! I assured them that mowing my lawn in a shirt and tie would most likely be one of the signs of the apocalypse! I also had a parishioner once notice my growing goatee and say, with a certain amount of disdain, “I guess you lost your razor?!” I quickly assured them that, no, I had NOT lost my razor, but thanked them for their concern! I will say that, when I entered the ministry, I had my own preconceived notion of what a pastor should look and act like- and it had a profound impact on my early ministry. I was never myself, but always what I thought everyone wanted me to be. In my efforts to be all things to all people however, I watered down the broth so much I fear no one was being fed! Then, an amazing thing happened. God impressed upon me that I should be (to quote that great theologian Marlo Thomas) “free to be me”! I realized that I could only adequately minister to others if I was at the same time being true to myself. So now, my weekday “uniform” is black jeans, t-shirt and jacket (perhaps a non-neon nod to those wonderful Miami Vice days! But I do NOT push my jacket sleeves up! I USED to…but not anymore!) The other things that grew out of that revelation God gave me were the shaved head and the earring. I had a receding hairline in college, and the older I got, the farther north it receded! I REFUSE to be one of those guys whose part starts down by their ear and swirls all around their head, so I started cutting it shorter and shorter, until finally I just started going all Telly Savalas (who loves ya’, baby?). Around that same time, I shocked everyone (including my family) by announcing I was going to get an earring. So now I have a cross dangling from my left ear- it’s a GREAT conversation starter!
     Are you willing to be…YOU? Are you OK with letting people see who you really are? Or do you hide behind the image you think you need to maintain? Do you fear that, if others saw who you “really are”, they wouldn’t like you? Here’s my question- if people are not going to like you because you change your hair, pierce an ear or get a tattoo, did they really like you in the first place? Are they worth subjugating who you are? The Army has it right when they say, “be all that you can be.” God made you the way you are, and God loves you! That should be good enough. If God loves you for who you are…then BE that person, and let the chips fall where they may. Be comfortable enough in your own skin to let others see YOU, warts and all. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find. I am NOT perfect…but what you see IS what you get!! Oh, and by the way, the picture? It’s of a pastor, circa 1916. How cool is it that, in 1916, he was comfortable enough to sport a ZZ Top beard? Have a great day, share this with someone, and stick with Jesus!

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