I chose the above picture because it’s what you see on a number of church websites. Truth is, those people don’t attend that church. I actually ripped off the pic from a church’s website (which is likely illegal, so if this post vanishes you know why). I mock pictures like this because they’re not a realistic representation of the people who fill most churches week after week.
If you know me well, you know that people are the most difficult part of ministry for me. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Let me clarify: it’s not peoples’ souls that get on my nerves; it’s their (and my) sinful natures, tendencies, and habits. In general—and I dare any pastor to disagree with evidence—people are draining, troublesome, selfish, whiny, selfish, consumeristic, and selfish.
I’m sure some pastor out there felt adequately prepared to deal with the madness that is humanity. But I left seminary under the impression that if I could make people care about what I care about, then they’d probably be better off than if left to themselves. For instance, if you could understand why it is you close your eyes when you pray and when that all started, you could rise above such silly superstitions and be better pray-ers. Well that’s dumb.
People don’t care. Fact is, one time after a sermon I prayed with my eyes open on stage, and it was incredibly awkward to make eye contact with people whose eyes were not closed–non-conformists I suppose. Needless to say, I close my eyes now. Other thoughts you have in seminary–like whether there actually was a battle at Jericho– people don’t care. Granted, if there was no battle of Jericho, the children’s song would lose its luster and royalties would suffer, but I doubt anyone would spin into a faith crisis.
We all have our junk, issues, habits, and sins. That’s why the Gospel is necessary in the first place. So sure, people are the hardest part of this whole gig for me, but that should probably be the case for any pastor. So don’t be fooled Bible College/Seminarian, you can know all the coolest facts nobody cares about, and the people will still be jacked up. But you are too…that’s why you’re in school where you are (wink).