I love what I do for a living. There is no doubt in my mind that I am internally wired by God to be a minister. Most importantly, God has called me to be a minister and has equipped me by giving me gifts to be a minister. I very rarely have those “I don’t want to wake up and go to my job” mornings. I truly do love my job (my calling).
However, I have come to dread telling people – especially strangers – what I do for a living. I avoid giving out that information at all cost. And I cringe when I get asked the dreaded question – what do you do for a living?
Now, here me out before you assume that I am ashamed of my profession or, even worse, my God. NO WAY!
I only say that I avoid the dreaded question, because people often change how they act or how they treat me because I work for a church. The perfect way to describe what often happens is that a big, thick wall gets put up. Before that information leaked, I was just a nice guy who wanted to have a good conversation. After that information leaked, I turn into a minister that has an agenda.
This morning I can think of two places where the walls from the dreaded question seem to be thrown up the most.
The first place is THE GYM. One of the advantages of living in a small town is that most people know you and know what you do. One of the disadvantages of a living in a small town is that most people know you and know what you do. I have noticed that I tend to hang out with a lot of “church people”. One thing about the gym that I like is that I am hanging out with people who are not necessarily “church people”. People are pretty real in the gym. Maybe it is all the testosterone, the sweat, or the often hideous workout clothes that helps get people real. People are often raw in the gym. The filters tend to come down and people are more authentic. I have had some very unusual conversations in the gym that I probably would not have with a church member directly after Sunday service. However, you should see how quickly people change how they treat me and what they say when they get the knowledge that I am a minister.
The second place I see this happen is on AIRPLANES. You know…the dreaded sitting by someone you do not know plane ride? You either get one of two types of people: the talker or the ignore-at-any-cost person. If I get a talker beside me, I try my hardest to not bring up my occupation as long as I can so I can get the unfiltered, real person before they switch to “I’m sitting beside a pastor so I better behave” mode.
Let me talk to ministers, pastors, clergy, wives of ministers, elders, etc first. There is no doubt in my mind that you understand what I am saying. Hang in there. Keep connecting with people and sharing the good news of the Gospel with people. And when your occupation or title in the church gets in the way of that, keep loving, connecting, and sharing anyway.
Now to the people who are not ministers – please do not change how you act when you are around ministers. We are looking for people who are authentic – even if that authenticity does not look holy or “churchy”. Ministers do not have some special connection with God that you cannot possess, nor do they have Jedi-like powers that can stare into the deepest, darkest corners of your soul. We mess up too. We have fights with our spouses too. We say things we should not say when we stub our toe too. We just love God with all our hearts and get our paychecks from a church.