Sunday, January 10, 2010

War Has Been Declared

It has been a while since I've written, and I'm hoping someone will read this and will offer up some prayers, or as my friend Sistermoon says—positive energy—my way.

It always happens to the preacher at one time or another. At some point, the element that is dissatisfied decides to attack the preacher when he's vulnerable. It has happened again. I wasn't surprised. It can hurt my feelings, but really, it's part of the job.

But they got to me pretty good last week. They caught me by surprise by criticizing my wife. I was meeting with the leadership to discuss how we can get back some of our young marrieds who are MIA when someone suggested that some of them weren't coming because my wife offended them. If this is true, it is for baseless reasons.

My wife is beautiful (like a model) and shy. She is lovely and quiet—sort of my counterpart. It has not been easy being a minister's wife, but she has rarely been criticized herself. In past churches the people saw that she works hard and they recognized her talents. The men sort of fall in love with her though she doesn't seem to notice it, and the women like her because they feel safe around her—somehow they do not feel competition with her.

The first time people meet her they look me over and wonder how a big clumsy guy like me rates someone like her, and my stock usually rises.

She has had to sacrifice a lot to be married to a minister. She could have easily had someone handsomer and more financially successful, but she chose to make her life with me.

My family has had to do without things because I serve the church. Not just things. How many birthdays and holidays have I had to be gone? How many dinners have I missed to take care of someone else? How many evenings have I not been at home because of the demands of a low paying job?

But this latest experience is not something the family should have to take. They don't deserve it.

I'm not hurt.

I'm mad.

I'm enraged.

The guy who spoke is lucky to have walked away that night—I wanted to leap across the table and grab him by the throat. I am disgusted with the other people around the table who simply looked down and did not speak up in her defense. I realized this had already been discussed between them.

Upon reflection I realize they criticized her because they knew it would get to me.

They were right.

This morning I will go and preach a sermon on love and I'll use many entertaining anecdotes. I'll be kind to all the unknowing people who need help. I will not use any angry words or commit any physically hostile actions.

But war has been declared. They have some advantages. But I've been in this business a long time. I know how to fight this kind of campaign. In the past, I've disciplined myself not to use my skills for personal reasons. I have been restrained.

But not anymore.

12 comments:

  1. CG--Just don't wind up like Sonny Corleone. They knew they could get him through his temper, and they did.

    They can all go to hell later. In the meantime, screw the worthless bastards. They attacked your WIFE?! Not even Jesus was kind to cowards like this. I enjoy a good game of 3-D chess. They have bruised your heel; you can bruise their heads. The whole snake pit can be smoked out. Call me if you need another pawn...or castle. I'm very, very sorry you're having to endure this, whether it's "part of the job" or not. But they are likely to be much sorrier. My rage is like dry ice. Like the punchline of the old joke, "Go back! Go back! There's TWO of them!" -- J

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  2. Even if your wife did offend them, what a ridculous argument for people not going to church. People are so petty.

    Why is it that some people act like their pastor owes them something and they can treat him any way they like if he's not delivering what they want?

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  3. She offended them how?

    While part of me understands that this is simply human nature, that this is part of the reason there will never be world peace, a part of me still shakes her head in amazement.

    It doesn't go away, it never will.

    I admit there are few exceptions, you being one, I've found that those that are "saved" immediately become judge. That they can barely even understand the important words of Jesus, let alone put them into practice. You know treat others etc etc....then they wonder why people leave the church and don't come back. I highly doubt it was your wife that chased the young marrieds. Seems like it is more the judgement group that is creating animosity.

    I'm just saying...

    ...and BTW sorry I've been MIA myself. Busy times abound...

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  4. Mike TMA--It's really pretty simple. Churches view their preachers the way they do waitresses, as poor, powerless, easy targets for their moods, and psychics who should read and cater to their every whim. "Oh, I'm sorry, sir, I'll get them to toast that bread just a little browner for you." "Oh, I apologize for that. I'll bring you a fresh glass without so much ice." "Plate too hot?... Food too cold?" Then this waitress, who holds two jobs to feed her four kids, gets what the fat diner considers a generous tip - TWO bucks - after jumping through more hoops than a circus monkey.

    You're a good guy, Mike. Why can't we just throw the selfish little tittie babies out and fill the churches with people of good hearts like you and Sistermoon? You think I'm kidding. Ask CG if he thinks I'm kidding. - JagWar

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  5. J, my favorite punchline.

    I asked my wife to stay home this week but I didn't say a thing about it at church. My sermon did not address anything that was said earlier in the week.

    I think they were waiting to see how I reacted--they were all smiles and cooperation. So was I.

    But there's going to be a reckoning....

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  6. Mike, thanks for the words, and you're right.

    I've been preachign for a while that the Lord's people need to stop being thumbsucking babies who demand constant coddling. But I think that offends them too.

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  7. Sistermoon, they only way my wife knows how to be is nice. I'm told some thought she was critical, but I don't know the particulars and frankly, I'm not interested in listening to any made up crap.

    Hope all is going well with you. Always glad to hear from you.

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  8. JagWar, I know you're not kidding and i agree. I'd love to have a church full of people like Mike AKA and Sistermoon. We wouldn't have to agree but we'd have some great discussion and probably do some great work.

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  9. From my experience growing up in a church and then watching my minister brother bound from bad church to bad church to bad church over the last 20 years, everything you describe about the petty tyranny of the old guard and the utterly contemptible treatment of pastors is pretty much consonant with what I've observed. (Which I take as yet another piece of evidence that the church is in no sense a special group of "called out" people with any special guidance from a "Holy Spirit" but simply regular people of particular psychological profiles, but that's for another debate... :))

    But as to your situation---don't resort to passive aggression. If I may be frank, as someone who loves your blog, appreciates that your heart is always in the right place, and consistently enjoys your insights, I get seriously frustrated by how often you seem to feel pressed to deal with situations in the most passive and non-confrontational ways. Working with dysfunctional, self-righteous people constantly seems to have you internalizing their rules of engagement to a really seriously unhealthy and CLEARLY maddening and frustrating way.

    I don't see you being any happier if you continue forever to try to work within rules fit for a playground. I know it's easy from outside of your particular sphere of power-dynamics for me to offer advice that you don't obey the rules of those power-dynamics and so I understand if you have to wave me away on this. But the systems within which you've been working your whole career are fundamentally corrupt and THEIR socializing effects are far greater than the ideals coming out of your mouth in your sermons.

    The power structures within which people actually live are the real guides to their attitudes and subsequent behavior. Talk all you want, play head games all you want, but as long as the dynamics of power don't change it really means nothing.

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  10. I'm sorry to hear about this, my anonymous friend.

    I was PK -- I watched people attack my parents more times than I can recall. It always hurt worse when it was my wonderful mother who bore the brunt of the assault.

    Situations like this make me hope there is a final day of reckoning for us all, when embisiles like this have to answer for their actions and people like my mother and your wife are vindicated.

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  11. Dan, I appreciate your words so much and I feel your supportiveness. As always your stuff is loaded with content that I have to digest.

    Few people would characterize me as passive aggressive--by nature I'm overtly aggressive, However, I don't believe it is right or helpful to fully vent my anger. No one thought I was being passive at that meeting.

    I am glad I held back enough to where I let the fellow walk out of the room uninjured.

    As to the rest of what you said, as is often the case with your thoughts, I will give it some thought.

    Thanks for reading and thanks especially for your comments.

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  12. To brgulker: As a fellow PK, you remind me of the times my mother was harmed. May all our wives and mothers be protected.

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