Friday, August 1, 2008

Other career choices

No one has ever confused me with a wise man. Well that’s not entirely true. When I was a Southern Baptist Preacher people always got confused. That’s a good thing. Every good Preacher wants to cause a little confusion and consternation. If no one’s confused, then no one’s listening. But they’ll keep coming back; the fear of hell is a wonderful way to fill the pews.

But it scared me to realize people accepted whatever I said as the “word of God”. I am not God and am not delusional enough to think so (with all apologies to Jim Carey & George Burns). People would come up to me after a service and tell me they didn’t know that was what the Bible meant. I told them that’s how I see it based on where I am in my spiritual growth. You need to go home and think about it and decide if it was right for you. They always had the funniest expressions on their faces. There’s that darn confusion again. I felt that they came to church to be told how it is; not to think about it. What good is church if you have to think? Isn’t it outlawed in many congregations?

As a ministerial student I met with my counselor (who just happened to be the Chaplain for the college) to discuss some concerns. How I was supposed to preach the truth to a congregation when I wasn’t sure what it was myself. He told me that we were on one big happy journey seeking God; that I had to share new truths with my flock that jived with what they were able to understand. This would keep from shaking them off their spiritual foundation. But that I should sprinkle in a few new ideas to help them grow; and would only make them a little wobbly.

I told him I understood but had one burning question; what if I was wrong? What if when I stood before the Pearly Gates Saint Peter told me that not only was I going to Hell but I was taking about 150 people with me (I like having company)?

I must’ve confused him because he had the same funny expression on his face as my congregations. I appreciated him telling me he didn’t have a good answer for that one; that thought hadn’t crossed his mind. He tried to console me with we are all responsible for our own salvation and make decisions on what to believe. I thought that was a lot like saying it was OK for me to feed them poison but it was their choice to die.

This was the first time I put serious thought into the fact that I might be in the wrong profession.


Steve Sites said...

Good post. Glad to hear this from a Preacher himself. I'm not much of a church-goin man really but grew up SB. I hear so many people say "well Pastor X said this, or that," and i've told them, well, i understand but God gave us a brain too. So read the Bible sometimes, I tell them.

Annie Brunson said...

Brilliant post. I'm from England, and was a little surprised when I came to the South that so many people swallow what their preacher tells them without question. The Buddha said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."