Monday, July 27, 2009

The Minister Tag

I never wanted to become a minister. My wife never wanted to marry a minister.

So much for all that.

I tend to be paranoid at times; always over-analyzing things, often losing sleep over pointless matters. I am the first to admit many of my "intuitive hunches" are way off base. Take what follows with a big grain of salt.

I have a group of old friends from highschool with whom I have tried to make contact. Most have become my "Facebook friends", but that's about all. Because we are "friends" I am able to see them online and browse through their postings. It has been interesting to see where life has taken people and how the years have changed them.

These friends would certainly say the same of me.

In highschool we partied together. Though we were good kids, we did engage in some destructive behaviors. Nothing serious, but nothing I would recommend to my own children either. Our group was close, and we spent much time together.

The college years sent us in different directions. Some went to school, some worked, others even married. A few stayed in touch, but most were scattered.

I was the guy who went off to school and later became a minister. No one saw that one coming; not even me.

Ministers have always been too fuddy-duddy for me. Too straight-laced, too polished.

Ministers are the conscience of the faith community. They don't drink, swear, or watch R-rated movies. Ministers are boring at best, preachy at worst, and few people want them around when it's time to get the party started.

Ministers wear a scarlet letter of sorts. Call it: The Minister Tag.

I never wanted the Minister Tag. Today I wear one everywhere I go. Not everyone sees my Tag right away, but given time, they recognize me. Surprisingly, my Tag is often well-received. I am amazed how many Christians I meet; how many random strangers seem to appreciate my work. Even the government gives me special tax privileges, all because of my Minister Tag!

But to my old friends, the people of my former life, my Minister Tag seems little more than a red flag. "Be careful what you say," they whisper, "Don't let him know you have beer in your refrigerator. Don't mention your divorce. Don't invite him over on poker night; after all, what would a minister think of such things?"

All reasons I never wanted the Minister Tag.

I see pictures of my old friends together, laughing. I see notes they have posted on each others' profile pages. I know they can talk and share and confess to a variety of things together.

Things change when the minister enters the room.

Like Paul, I want to become all things to all people. I want to live and laugh and play with others, whether they are drinking or gambling or bemoaning their broken marriages. Regardless of popular opinion, I am capable of this sort of relationship, without judging or condemning others. Sadly, I often feel judged myself; ostracized from relationships that are more relaxed and enjoyable in my absence.

To be excluded, to be uninvited; to be passed over or conveniently ignored, is to wear the Minister Tag.

- DB


Mona said...

You would be amazed to know how comparable so much of this is to being a divorcee in the C of C -- especially 40 years ago.

Surprised me -- but I think I know what you mean and are feeling.

Keith Clark said...

Spot on. I wish there were a simple way to circumvent the challenges that come with the tag, but if there is one, I certainly haven't found it.

StoneDog Designs said...

I feel ya man. Apparently because we are ministers we aren't people too. I mean there is no way we would ever walk around with a skittle wrapper in our butt or light a fart on fire with a lighter at camp because lighters are contraband at camp or heaven forbid we actually designed own and wear a shirt based on a rated R movie. You need to come to Texas so we can hang out.

Tim said...

Man, you took the words right out of my mouth. It can definitely be challenging at times but so rewarding as well. I find it sometimes difficult to talk to others about my faith because I'm afraid they'll just write me off as a "minister" and think it's just a part of the job. God has been challenging me lately to not worry about that and to step out on faith and give people a chance to respond. To my surprise, the response I've gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Wow, trusting in God, who'd a thunk it?? Thanks for the post bro!

Anonymous said...

Wow, 15 years has passed since I probally spoke with you other than a chat here or there online, but I can tell you it is nice to see you can keep it real and can speak your faith! I often think about good old Higginsville and the people I have not spoken with, but is sure nice to know that you continue to "Minister" gods words and ways. Your a great Man Dave! even if you stabbed me in art class!!

Court said...

I can relate, friend. I've worn the M-Tag, too--except with me, it stood for "missionary." I got similar reactions from some people.

Of course, I've gotten similar reactions from some people simply because I wear the C-Tag, too.

C-hristian, y'know. ;o)

A friend of ours told me that when he became an elder, people stopped dropping by his office just to chat about their lives--as though his being an elder elevated him beyond what they could relate to.

I don't know what the solution is. I think this problem results from so many of our predecessors who *have* rejected people for their sins, doubts, struggles, etc. I think this problem results from so many of our predecessors who have lived the stereotype you described.

The only way I know to fight that stereotype is simply to be who we are, *live* who we are, and hope that over time, others will learn to see us for what we are instead of looking at the M-Tag and turning away.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if it makes you feel any better, it would take me a while to peg you as a minister if I didn't know you already :-) I've often thought that you've taken the M-tag and thrown it out the window so to speak. You do a great job of relating to people and being "just your average Christian" instead of fitting the M-stereotype. But that's just my opinion from far away. I also think that there are those out there who seek out ministers to discuss their problems with BECAUSE they are ministers--people who don't want to talk to their own circle about it. It goes both ways, I guess. -Bri