Best Sensitivities

I was stopped by a waitress the other day and asked how it was going. She doesn’t come to First Presbyterian, I just frequent her place and she serves me on a regular basis, so she knows me. “How’s it going at the church? Are people throwing things yet?” She was asking if people were taking aim at me as a pastor and getting in my face. I just told her the truth. “Oh, sure,” I said. “Really?! Already?! Are they throwing the heavy stuff, rocks and bricks?” “It’s a group of human beings,” I told her. “We all do the same things…”
She has an interesting perspective on church people and how life in a church works, don’t you think?
How we take care of each other will always be the tell-tale mark of believers. ” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) It’s never going to change. The first mark observed is not whether we’re good or know the Bible verse or sing in the choir or at church every time the doors are open. It will be how we care for each other.
On any given day I’ll get emails or notes or phone calls or visits where someone tells me what a bum I am or what a lousy job I’m doing as a pastor or they’ll tell me how glad they are that I’m here or how they have grown, changed, been relieved by a sermon or a comment or a visit or a prayer. It’s not that different from anyone else’s life, I think. Someone will come into your face and tell you what they think of you. It might make your day or make you feel bad. So, I should say that almost all of what I am told makes me feel great.Firstpres
I think one reason that the weight is on that side is because so many, many people aren’t focused on me. They’re focused on what they’re building or studying and they’re feeling like God’s involved with them. They have a sense that at this church we are creating something that will bless and honor God and will call us into loving each other deeply. We are creating a community of faith where people
• are able to easily explore actually getting in touch with God’s Spirit
• know themselves better and know how they work best with others
• know the kinds of gifts or abilities God’s given them to work in the world
• find that children are learning how to pray for each other, how to sing together and how to care what’s going on in each other’s lives
• know that they can trust the Bible and that its telling them how God loves us
Whether it is the business end of budgets and calendars and processes or it’s the internally challenging aspects of insights or learning or trying new things, people are at work and seeking to serve God. All of it is spiritual and sometimes it’s just great to be around and sometimes it’s plain wondrous.
There are pastors in this world who hate their job. I just read about a pastor who took his life and I sat with another who got dumped by his church and I ate with another who is always looking for a place to go where he won’t see “anyone from the church.” I can appreciate the ache but I’m just not there myself.
I love every square inch of this place and what’s going on here. That’s why I was able to tell the waitress, “We all do the same things… but we’re headed in a better direction.” It’s not that we’re not human. It’s that we’re learning, growing and changing to become, once again, truly and fully human… the way God made us to be.


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