Friday, December 16, 2005

The joy of pastoral secrets

I used to think I was avoiding an early heart attack by not working with my father. After three years under his wing in my early 20s, I "escaped" to the "less demanding" field of journalism.

Over a decade later I'm discovering a couple nice things:

  • My father has mellowed a great deal
  • My father is in much better position to pay me and teach me
  • I enjoy having a lot of work and working at my own pace.

    Daily and weekly deadlines aren't really a part of my normal schedule any more. If I want to take a two-hour lunch to hang out with the pastoral staff at their secret hideway, I can do that now.

    That last part is a location to which I have been sworn to secrecy. There, a Chinese buffet which might as well have a little First Century fish carved into its decaying wall paper, the religious movers and shakers of Gilbert, Ariz., meet to gripe, joke, and generally behave without fear some busy body will be organizing the next church split.

    I am privy to this location because I know so many dark secrets about my pastor, it's pointless not to include me. He probably fears blackmail.

    I had lunch at this place not long ago. I was supposed to be meeting with the senior assistant pastor. The worship leader came along. Not long after that the senior pastor showed up. Then our friendly Lutheran pastor stepped to a back table to read a book that's probably not favorable for Lutheran pastors to read.

    It was a slow day at the buffet, but at any given time you could probably crash into one of several dozen pastors. The things they say never leave the doors.

    My blogging friend Brian is learning a little about this. If you are a pastor, you are privy to what the "sixth C" is, and in a place like this Chinese buffet, you can laugh about it without fear of judgement.

    I once read a faux letter of resignation (written by one pastor for another pastor going through a very rocky time in his church) that read as if it were written by secular comedian. Nothing foul, but a little blue, which only made it funnier.

    Pastors do gripe some, but they know they're not going to get much sympathy from other pastors. It comes with the job.

    If you are in a church, and I hope you are, you would bless your pastor by going up to him after Sunday's sermon and say this:

    "Pastor, I know I haven't always been the best servant of this church. My tithes are inconsistent, and I'm usually "busy" when stuff needs to be done. When you asked for Sunday School teachers, I said I would do it, then I came down with a rare form of laryngitis that allowed me to scream at the youth pastor for showing a PG movie over the weekend, but I could not speak to teach the children myself. That was something of a white lie. When you asked for help to deliver food for our ministry to the poor, I couldn't do it because I was playing a Doom marathon. But all of that is in the past now. I just want you to know I'm in your circle now. I've got your back -- and I'm not carrying a knife. Promise. Let's build God's kingdom together."

    When the pastor catches his breath from laughing, I guarantee he will appreciate your show of support.
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