Hide The Beer, The Pastor’s Here

By pastorbillwalden

I think that that is a funny, slightly clever saying.  I have been “that” pastor more than a few times.

It’s a weird feeling.  I walk into a gathering, such as a reception after a funeral, or something. People are “doing their thing”, and when I walk in I hear things like, “Oh, excuse my language pastor, or, I know I shouldn’t smoke, or….they look at me and look away sheepishly, imagining that I think they are horrible or something.

I always feel weird.  I am “there” artificially. I am not part of their world, except when someone dies, or gets married, or some other “un”usual reason.  I’m glad to be there, but it is awkward to be the one who changes things simply by being there.  I know that as a Christian, I am to be salt and light, etc., but sometimes I feel like a parole officer in a drug house.

Sometimes I respond verbally. Something like, “Hey, it doesn’t bother me if you smoke”, or, I just smile back sheepishly. It’s weird for me.  I’m trying to be invisible, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

I am not a choir boy.  I actually had a very different life before I was a Christian.  I’m not shocked at a lot of stuff.  I don’t cover my mouth and gasp at the sight of such things. I know…it’s hard to believe.

I appreciate the respect and deference that people show me because I’m a pastor.  That’s a cool thing.  I might try to dodge their smoke, not get any alcohol on me, and sit down and hang out with them, and get to know them.  It rarely happens that way, in those kinds of gatherings, but it’s all good. Sometimes I get to connect with people, but often times, folks don’t wanna be seen with the likes of me.  😉

If I could say a few things to them (and sometimes I do), it would be something like this:

“Thanks for saying that.  I appreciate that.  It doesn’t bother me.  Actually, I’m not the one you need to worry about.  I’m not your judge, God is.  He loves you, and he is the one you need to think about, not me, but thanks”.

Somehow, many people have gotten the idea that drinking and smoking are deal breakers with God. I recently told one guy to not quit drinking or smoking unless Jesus inspired him to. Just come to church, listen, and be open, and then make up your own mind.

Gosh, I know a lot of Christians, including pastors, that were drinking and smoking and doing other stuff when they came to Jesus.  It seems like some of us have forgotten that.

Anyway, to all my future acquaintances: don’t worry about me.  If I don’t like what you’re doing, I’ll leave the room.  But honestly, Jesus is the One you need to think about.

Cheers!  Where’s the Martinelli’s?  😉

9 Responses so far

I really appreciate this, and I have talked with people on this subject at length many times.

I think it is funny that as Christians we are so quick to get out our legalistic rule book and start judging what God has yet to correct on the outside of another, while not knowing what he is doing in their hearts.

One of the lines in that song is “yes lust is his brew” speaking about the “scripture-man” who is the one being legalistic. We don’t seem to see the heart, and so we try to “help God.” We think if the outside is ok, that is all that matters.

But something that God showed me a long time ago was simply love Jesus. We become like those whom we love, and a friend of mine pointed it out a long time ago. My friend Nick once asked me if I listened to country music because of a girl I liked. And I had to admit it was true; and he told me in his little poll he had done that had always been the answer. If I, along with all those other guys, would listen to country for some girl I was twitterpated with back in high school… if I would change fundamentally who I was by identifying with country music… shouldn’t my love for Christ change me so much more and really transform me?

So if we just love Jesus, and it is He who began the good work in you and is the one who is faithful to complete it; then shouldn’t we just trust it is He that WILL DO what remains and let Him take those things away in His time?

(Sorry to write so long a comment, but you struck a chord… and I could go on even more.)

Great way of putting it! I as a pastor mother have experience the same thing from people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!>>> “Thanks for saying that. I appreciate that. It doesn’t bother me. Actually, I’m not the one you need to worry about. I’m not your judge, God is. He loves you, and he is the one you need to think about, not me, but thanks”. Yes it is God that will judge! We are to love on them and not judge! Have a great day! Bonnie

You know that is one of the things I love about both you & debbie; and about God too. It is all about grace and letting Him change hearts!! I have a friend who is not a believer that calls me a “church lady” that doesnt look down on others!

Well said. Thanks for writing. I have been reading a great, and convicitng book: “The Grace Awakening” by Charles Swindoll. We need to give people more grace and show them the love of the Lord. Not be so condeming and legalistic.

Thanks all for your comments…
Jason, great illustration about the country music. 🙂

I’ve worked closely alongside many ministers in my life, and I can say that a lot of what you’re talking about here is really just a social thing. The same way people tend to be on better behaviour when their boss is around, or when they’re on a job interview, it’s often the same response when they’re in front of someone who’s in ANY leadership position – including church.

It’s social etiquette really – that teaches us to treat people of leadership differently. The reason why people tend to ‘straighten up’ their posture when you enter a room, is probably the same as why no one (at least none I know) ever greets their boss by hooking their arm around his neck, noogie-ing his hair everywhere – and shouting WHAAAT’S UP – BUUUDDDY?!!!

What were we taught to do as children – when our father entered the dining room at dinner…? ‘Behave yourself’. So we do the same thing as adults – when a male authority figure enters the room. Truth be told, it’s kind of the ‘downside’ of leadership…

That’s why people say “it’s lonely at the top”, because a lot of that healthy affection – the bear hugs and noogies, the goose piles and play-wrestling, even the friendly name-calling and teasing from a buddy – are often lost – the ‘higher’ up a person goes in respect. Too much respect creates a lot of distance between people, that’s why Jesus warned against pastors being over-exalted, when he said “don’t let anyone call you Rabbi…”

In the context there, he was saying, “be careful that you’re not exalted to the point that you become a local religious ‘celebrity’ – like the Pharisees…” It’s about church leaders being on guard against hero-worship in their church community.

There is one way I know of to bring out a lot more authenticity and vulnerability from people. It’s the same as when Solomon says “the one who wants friends must BE friendly”. So also – if you want people to be more real with you – be real with them first, then see how they react.

Basically, it’s all about confession. And when I say ‘confession’ – I’m not talking about those bogus, artificial, fake confessions of fake weaknesses that people give at job interviews. You know – when they’re asked “what’s your biggest weakness?” And they answer with “I can be a LITTLE BIT of a perfectionist” or “my BIGGEST weakness is – sometimes I’m a little too punctual…”

The same way people hide behind fake confessions in a job interview, I’ve heard pastors HIDE behind fake confessions in sermons a hundred times in my life. Politically correct, weak confessions like “sometimes I drink a little too much coffee…” or “I have been known at times to watch a little too much TV…”

So often they project this illusion of being just a shade below perfect – then they WONDER why no one REAL would even try to relate to them! Didn’t Paul say ‘you reap what you sow..?’ Here’s an example of what a REAL confession from a pastor looks like;

“I know the way that some of you look at me, when you approach me after a service – I understand what you’re thinking. I see something in your eyes as you walk toward me, saying ‘wow! – I was sooo moved by what you said to me today – you’re such a GREAT man of God!..’

I can see a glimmer of hero-worship there – that is unbalanced – and unhealthy. But that’s not what I want to tell you. I want to tell you, that though I know it’s wrong – and that Jesus openly rebukes it… Still, somewhere inside me – I love it…

I see with great clarity the words of Jesus, when He renounced the Pharisees for ‘loving the chief seats in the synagogues – and greetings in the marketplaces’. He viewed their approval addiction as deplorable and unspiritual, and yet – I continually find myself doing the same thing.

Somewhere inside me, I love being loved by people – I love the popularity. I love the handshakes and smiles. I love the ego-stroke of people continually flattering me – always seeing me through the image of who they think I am – the image of me at the front of the church.

I have moments where I’m walking through the church – and I feel like I’m recapturing the ‘Big man on campus’ feeling I always wanted back in high-school – it’s clearly an age old problem of pride. Having said all this, I’m really starting to realize why Jesus renounces such cherishing of church status…

I can feel myself changing – the more I adore the adoration from people. I’m becoming a slave to my church reputation – a prisoner of my church image. I’m less and less my relaxed, authentic self. I’m more and more tense and insecure. I’m becoming more neurotic and fixated on image, manners and social etiquette – ever-mindful of what my church people think of me – and how EVERYTHING I do reflects on my ‘sacred’ reputation.

I’ve got to hide behind a smile – even when I’m sad – my ‘yes’ isn’t really a ‘yes’. I’m also angry about some of the things that I see in this church, but I stuff it away inside of me, because anger is ‘ugly’ – and I can’t risk ‘tarnishing’ my lamb-like, nice-guy image with it. I’m lonely at the top, but I’m compelled to repress my true feelings, because my image won’t allow me to show REAL ‘weakness’ in front of the people…

I’m eternally stuck in ‘job-interview mode’ – always at all times forcing myself to be the ‘perfect’ version of my ideal self… I’m thinking ten times before I say even a word nowadays – to ensure that everything I say sounds sickly-sweet and politically correct – and most of all… inoffensive…

You think I’m such a wonderful man of God? Why? Because I stand up here and give you a safe, ‘feel-good’ motivational speech once a week? Because I sound like a spiritualized Tony Robbins? A pop-psychology self-help guru – with the occasional neutral Bible verse mixed in to my message? Something from Proverbs? Something like ‘hard work yields results’ – that NO ONE would EVER be offended at..?

When I consider the JESUS of the Bible, and how over-the-top offensive so many of his statements were in his day… Like when He said to the Pharisees “the Prostitutes and tax collectors will get into the Kingdom before you do”. Those men were revered leaders in Judaism – they weren’t ‘villainous’ as they’re portrayed in the Hollywood gospel reenactments. They were way more like the beloved Rabbi from the Fiddler on the Roof. They were like John Piper or Rick Warren to the Jews…

Or when he said in the sermon on the mount “if your righteousness doesn’t far-surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in NO case enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” Basically, if you want to have a shot at the Kingdom – step one – DON’T listen to the Pharisees…

Or in the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, He tells of a rich man, who was a member of a synagogue (that’s what ‘he was buried’ meant) – and had family values (that’s why he was concerned for his five brothers when he was in Sheol)…

In the story – it was this type of man – churchy, wealthy, and loved his OWN family – and yet cared nothing for the poor… He ended up in Hell… I see words like this – from the Jesus of the Bible, and I understand that He knew all of these outrageous things He said were leading Him to a cross – and He said them anyway…

Then I see myself – a man who’s often more politician than pastor. A man who’s often more about popularity and public relations – than preaching the truth… A man who’s consciously steering around the more polarizing words of Jesus – avoiding them out of shame – for fear that I might put a frown on somebody’s face in my church!.. You think I’m ‘Wonderful’? Let me tell you – even on my best day I’m light years beneath Jesus…

Believe me – I can relate to the bitter tears that Peter wept – the night he denied Jesus – the frustration over my own cowardice. And like Peter, who said earlier that night, “I’m ready to die for you” – so also I often confuse who I think I am – with who I really am…

But I don’t believe in me – and I’ve learned not to believe in my own frail human ability either. I’m trusting God to give me what I could never find in myself. It’s the cry of my heart – to be more like Jesus. To be bolder, to be free from the ‘fear of man’ – which Solomon said ‘leads into a snare’…

I believe that my prayer is being heard – and I want more of Him and less of me. I’m tired of being nice to a fault. I’m tired of having a one-sided approach to my ministry, which is ‘be nice – don’t hurt anyone’s feelings..’ It’s basically a hyper-extension of James 3. I’m ready to face the other blade in the two-edged sword – the one that says ‘Open rebuke is better than secret love’…

I want to know what it’s like to preach like Jesus – who preached like eternity was on the line with every sermon. I believe God has heard my cry, and by His Spirit and power, I’ll keep crying out and believing that He’ll keep changing me. So be ready – as I change, everything else in this place will change too…

Get ready – because as God changes me – I’m bound to say some things that I doubt you’ll want to hear, but I’m certain we all need to hear. And remember – any ‘flashes’ of boldness you might see in me – are not me – but the Lord working in me – with me – through me…”

Something like that – as an example of a real confession. If you want vulnerability – sow vulnerability. If you want real, gritty, gutsy sincerity – draw the curtains back – and sow it first. For the record – that little example of a confession – is a sample of the frustrations I’ve had with cowardice and approval addiction – waaay before I saw it in anyone else…

You wanted somebody to be REALLY honest with you..? Ask – and you’ll receive ; )

… didn’t you tell us you were once an altar boy growing up in the Catholic Church? : D

thank you for taking us through Scripture and helping is to know Jesus and to trust in God with whatever comes our way – Where else can we go, but to Jesus. You are a faithful pastor.

I’m sure that when Jesus walked into a room, He was noticed – and people had one of two responses:
1) those who loved their darkness (sin) were offended by Him and
2) those who loved Light (God) welcomed Him.

If anyone follows Jesus, they will experience this same reaction from people.

Either people are for Jesus or against Him, there is no middle ground.

My my my. How refreshing. Not having to hide who we are from God (as if we really could). Those who believe they can practice doing so in front of other people (especially at Church or around church-goers). LOL Only one that gets fooled are the ones who think they are fooling anyone.

The biggest balloons Jesus popped with the religious leaders in Judaism was pretentiousness. KJV hypocrisy. Same Difference.

Be real. Just be real. God already knows… {{thumbs up}}

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