Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Job versus Work II

A group of us were celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday this weekend. As I was standing in the men’s room, taking care of business, a guy who had obviously had a little too much to drink walked up to use the stall next to me. He made a serious man-law violation; he asked me a question. “Sssslo whatsss do yooou do?” he boldly queried. In my mind I chided, “please, dude, not here in the toilet.” But I quickly remembered that I didn't have to give my standard clever answer to hide what I really did, and relief settled in when I knew I didn’t have to respond with, “Oh, I’m a minister.” This almost always adds an immediate chill to any conversation. But now that I think of it, maybe I should have said that to the drunk guy to get him to shut up so I could go back to going number one. It’s not the work of a pastor with which I wasn’t comfortable; it was the job “pastor” that made relating more difficult. You see, it was always hard for me to relate to normal people when my full time job was being a pastor. Building a bridge to find common ground to discuss anything was hard to find once the “pastor” flag was raised. Yet some guys seemed to thrive on these kinds of “single serving” interactions, because inevitably their sermons would always start out with telling the audience about the person they led to Christ on the plane on the way here. It never dawned on me that they never gave illustrations involving their golfing buddies or the neighbor across the back fence. It was always about the guy in the checkout line, or the homeless man, or the guy who came into the church office for help. These last two years have been a freeing revelation to learn that in spite my job change, my work stays the same. In seminary, and at many pastor’s conferences I’ve attended, they make a big, big deal about our role in equipping the saints to do the WORK of the ministry. But the system is not really set up to support this idea, because the guys with the JOB of the ministry have created it this way (of which I was one). The only way I see it changing is to give more leaders permission to quit their day job so they can become more effective at their work. To be continued…

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Good word, Watchman. Have you read any Hirst and Frost? I think you would resonate with both "The Shaping of things to come" and "The forgotten ways".