A pastor recently shared with me that one of his parishioners had outlived two of her cardiologists. When she got the third one, she asked him, “How’s your heart?”
It’s a good question for a lot of us.
I’ve been thinking a lot about pastors as I’ve driven these back roads and spoken at various churches. I’ve met several pastors who appear to be young enough to be my son. I’ve also shared a sweet visit with Pastor Smitty, who was my pastor back when I was a young girl at Rose Hill Baptist.
Like cardiologists, pastors are tasked with taking care of our hearts, or at least instructing us on how best to do that.
Now I mean no disrespect to anyone. I’ve met many very good preachers who are young. I’ve even quoted a few of them from time to time. But when it comes to choosing a pastor to sit under, I am like that elderly woman – I want to know the condition of the pastor’s heart.
In Vietnam when the new guy arrived in the battlefield, other soldiers gave him a designation – FNG. You can probably figure it out. If you can’t, rest assured that it doesn’t mean Fine Nice Gal, like someone once told me. Being older doesn’t ensure that a person is a good cardiologist or a good pastor, but I do think there is something to be said for being a seasoned pastor. When you’re in battle, it’s best to be with the guy whose seen warfare before.
Here’s a few of the issues I have with the unseasoned pastor:
Reared up in a celebrity culture, they see themselves as rock stars of the congregation. You have to go through half-a-dozen bodyguards to have even the most casual of conversations. I’ve done that, of course – asked their “people” to introduce me. I usually get the introduction because they see me as somebody they ought to know. An equal among celebrities. I miss the day when preachers stood at the door and shook the hands of folks as they exited church. The day when they’d inquire about how your mama was doing or how the newlyweds are getting on.
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Hospital visits are considered a chore for some minion to do. Unless, of course, the dying happens to be someone of significance. Yes. You can read that as someone of material means.
Funerals? Everybody knows preachers don’t have time for that. “Let the dead bury the dead” is their motto.
Wednesday night visitations? What era did you grow up in? These preachers don’t have time to make house calls. And if you want to visit with them, you’d be better off heading down to the local coffee shop than to the church office.
Better yet, just Twitter them. Short conversations are best anyhow. Many of them are ADD and their listening skills haven’t improved much since they were in first-grade.
They spend more time studying the latest in market trends and reading Malcolm Gladwell than they do reading Scriptures and the signs of the times.
Instead of monthly trips to the barber, they make biweekly trips to see their stylist.
If you suggest they are metrosexual, they take it as a compliment.
Every single one of them is writing a book, though they can’t explain the difference between an adjective and an adverb.
They don’t know the names of the people who live four houses over from them, but twice a year they travel to Africa to minister to the hurting.
Because there isn’t enough of them to go around, they are developing a video series that can be downloaded to your iPad or iPhone. This is considered the latest form of fellowship.
Are the days gone when pastors watched you grow up, married you off, watched your children grow up, buried your mama and daddy and then reminisced with you over a cup of coffee on the front porch after a dinner that included peach pie?
I’m glad Smitty is still around to “remember when?” with me.
Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of “Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? ‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV.”