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.