What I really want to say is…
OCTOBER 22, 2012
I’m so thankful for you all! We need warriors who will hang in there, love the flock, at times stifle what they want to say, and at other times, say what needs to be said, even if it burns a bridge. Freedom and wisdom.
“Simmer down Pete, simmer down.” I can’t tell you how many times my friend Scott said that to me when we were growing up. He was the nicest and most balanced guy who came from a really good Christian home and I never saw him lose his cool. Anger out of control was common around our house and I caught the disease early and unleashed it often. I got mad when my buddy told me not to get mad. “Come on man, be angry with me, this ought to tick you off you too!” By the time I was a pastor, most of the anger went underground, which is not always good of course, but it saved my job. Grace enabled me to love others a bit more as I gradually began to see that I was probably twenty times more a jerk than they were. Or 40. And I’m still growing to love. I’ve learned the art of acting like I love everyone in the church. And I do, in general, like and love people. Still… there are times when you just really want to unload. Steve Brown put it well… “When we pay this building off there are some things I want to say to you.”
So I get an email of a blog that’s dealing with “WHAT I REALLY WANT TO SAY”… and It freed me up some…
When someone says…
1. “Hey pastor Pete good to see you!” as I run into them in the store or at a restaurant.
If I am 1,000 % positive that I have never seen them before in my life, I will say one of two things: “Hey I’m doing really well how are you doing?”, acting like I know who they are and maybe even giving them a hug. Or, “I’m doing pretty good how about you?…ok, I’m not sure I know your name.” The bottom line here is that sometimes I’m feeling more vulnerable and don’t want to admit I don’t know them. When I’m graced-up I don’t have to play games, and I like that better. But being a pastor in a community is tough…you can’t even go out and sin in public. And I try to work on names ‘cause there is no sweeter music to a person’s ear than their own name remembered and used in conversation. After a certain number though, I found it way more difficult to remember names! What I really want to say is: “Did I do something inappropriate that you caught me doing when I didn’t know I was being watched?” Never said that but it’s a good line. Use it.
2. “We have simply got to turn the music down in worship or I’m outta here!”
I want to say, “There’s the door, see ya!” as my eyes spit fire. I can’t of course ‘cause we’ve got these bills to pay and I’m a pastor, gentle Jesus meek and mild and all of that. What I will say is, “You know we’re working on it…it’s not as easy a thing to calibrate as you might think. Give us some time to get it fixed.” And then you try to fix it, but you’re caught in the middle between your progressive worship people and your traditional leaning worship people. You’re also in the crossfire between those in your congregation who love the enhanced music because it conveys energy and God to them, and the contemplatives who like a more “holy” atmosphere. And age can’t help you figure out where people stand. Worship Wars. We gotta have friends to talk about this stuff with or you’ll wither up and die as a pastor. Actually, now that I’m not a pastor any more I don’t miss this element of church life…at all! My bullet wounds are actually healing over. What I really want to say is this: “Look, everyone has their worship preferences and you have yours but they’re not necessarily the right ones. Stop acting like you have the corner on what worship ought to be!” I have said something like this, in a cleaned up version.
3. “Ok, while I’ve caught you here right after the service, why did you and the elders fire my favorite staff person. What happened?”
Rough one…oh man. I die a thousand deaths. What I want to say is: “Look, he (or she) didn’t do their work, they were divisive on staff, they only wanted to go sit at Starbucks and talk to people, and they criticized me constantly and made life miserable and they wanted a raise.” I really do want to tell them all the reasons that the person had to be let go. But most often you just can’t. I talked with a man who retired as a senior pastor after 41 years in the same church. I asked him what he missed least about the pastorate. His immediate reply? Staff. Mmmmmm. I’m sure that some of the 5,000 pastors who drop out of the ministry a month do so over staff conflicts they were tired of trying to deal with in a church setting. My business buddies fire a guy for good cause and they don’t have to go near the grief we pastors do! It’s over in a day or two. For us it can linger for months, and you might lose some of your really good people because they supported that pastor even though he had to go. Some of you guys have the gift of team building and hiring well and some of us don’t (a lot of us don’t). We who don’t need to learn from you who do! Teach us!
I’m so thankful for you all! We need warriors who will hang in there, love the flock, at times stifle what they want to say, and at other times, say what needs to be said, even if it burns a bridge. Freedom and wisdom. Ah Lord give it to us we pray!
Strength and Courage,