Confession

michael-scott.jpg About 15 years ago I went to a conference for youth leaders/ministers/pastors. At the time, my full-time gig was working with youth (“and other duties as assigned”) in a church in South Dakota. The conference was down in Missouri and it ran for almost a week.

On the very last day, at the very last session, the final main speaker got up to give his talk. He was a Psychiatrist. He specialized in adolescent behavior and we all settled into our seats to hear him explain why teenagers act they way they do. But he cheated. He didn’t talk about kids at all. He started talking about us: the youth pastors and pastors, the ‘professional’ Christians.

He started with something like, “Why do we go into ministry?” And it was pretty much all down hill from there. His first reason was that some of us have never grown up and we go into youth work to prolong our childhoods. The second was that some of us never really had many friends as teenagers and we’ve found a profession that will force a group of teens to be our friends. I pretty much don’t remember much of what was said after that because I became absorbed in watching people I knew and people I’d never met, get up and walk out.

Honestly, I was stunned. I’d seen this same crowd set through some painfully boring and otherwise stupid sermons/talks/messages without getting up and leaving. It just wasn’t done unless someone was preaching that Jesus was an alien’s love-child or that women should be ordained (hmmm, there’s the bold button and the italics button, where’s the sarcasm button?).

The truth was, the Doctor was right. And we didn’t like it.

Can I come clean with you? Will you be my priest for a moment and let me confess?

Some of us will deny what I’m about to tell you but I’m going to let you in on the secrets of the inner circle. If anyone finds out where you got this information you must promise to never reveal your source. I would lose my de-coder ring and my discount card for Sam’s Club.

We who are pastors, the ‘professional’ Christians, those who are paid to follow Jesus…we’ve got problems. Let me be very clear I am ‘We’, I’m not writing about ‘them’. We are insecure. We have ego-issues. The Doctor was right, some of us are doing this because we didn’t want to grow up. Some of us are doing this because we’re like Michael Scott, the boss on the NBC show, “The Office”, we always wanted friends and now we have a church full of people who have to love us. For some it’s all about power, having an audience and wielding influence and trying to fill some empty hole in our soul.

Have you always suspected we might be as abnormally normal as everyone else? You were right.

Lots of pastors, guys I love and respect, pastors of really, really large churches and some not so large, have had bad or non-existent relationships with their dads. Trust me, this affects you. A lot. It really affects you when you’re pastoring. Some of us, myself included, are introverts who love this format of structure that makes us instant ‘experts’ (experts on God, the infinite, the almighty. I’m pretty sure that’s a category of mental illness right there) that a group of people will listen to and, we think, believe what we’re saying and have their lives forever changed for the positive. Honestly, there are few moments that give me happy feet like when someone comes up to me and quotes back to me something I said in a talk. (Usually this only happens on Sunday because by the second coffee break on Monday my talk’s disappeared from their memory like a snowman in July.) There are a multitude of reasons and most of us possess a mixture. We are both sinners and saints, “wounded healers” as Henri Nouwen put it, the imperfect signposts pointing the way to the Perfect.

I’ll wrap this post with these words from John Ondrasik, Five for Fighting, from his song, Superman (It’s Not Easy):
I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird…I’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even Heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even Heroes have the right to dream

It’s not easy to be me
Up, up and away…away from me
It’s all right…You can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy…or anything…

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
It’s not easy to be me.

And that’s the first part of my confession…

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Confession, Leadership, Life, Rambling, Reflective. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Confession

  1. Whatever your reason for pastoring, Brian, you do a great job at it. You are in the position to help people unlock their lives and the holes in their souls that keep them from living in their own peace. Everyone, pastors included, have their own reasons for choosing the line of work they end up in. I am choosing journalism because I am a person who constantly thinks about the world around me. I would love to also one day be in a public office so I can work for my community. To say that I have political ambitions because I want to control people (it was brought up to me by someone during the 2006 election) is just ridiculous. I want to be in public office to do the right thing — work for the people. I want to be in journalism to do the right thing — report the truth.

  2. brianmpei says:

    Thanks for the kind words Andrew. I think you would be brilliant in public office. You have a sharp mind but you also have compassion and concern for others, it seems like it’s usually one or the other, it’s rare to see both in the same person who works in government. Let me know when you run.

  3. deb says:

    You are admired by many because you are just a man in a silly red sheet.
    You are loved by even more because you have reserved the right to bleed.
    Only the ones that don’t care think it’s easy to be you. Because you are you I have no choice but to subscibe to the first 2.

  4. brianmpei says:

    Thanks Deb. I feel loved and appreciated and a freedom to take risks and it’s because I hang out with people like you!

  5. Shelley says:

    I was at a conference this weekend that made me think “oh gosh, I didn’t realize people like this still existed out in the Christiain world”…but they do and sadly are more like the majority than minority. What i’m trying to say is that i’ve had it good because of leaders like you. I realize that you didn’t write this blog to get encouragement, but it’s true. Your ability to try not to be a superhero means that I can actually relate to you and be honest….pastors are people too!! hooray!

    On another note, I think that it was a good marketing move to title your blog “confessions…” there is something about hearing that word that makes you want to read on for something juicy…
    and there is my confession

  6. brianmpei says:

    Hmmm. I think I’m glad I missed that conference. But thanks for saying nice things about me…and for your confession.

  7. Nathan says:

    that’s brilliant, micheal scott would make a great youth leader!?!

  8. brianmpei says:

    indeed nathan, he has

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