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15 June 2009

Confessions of a Professional Christian

I think that most of my friends and family would say that I'm not a particularly arrogant person. I may be wrong, but I think this is the case. I have pet peeves about grammar and I'm obsessive in competitions and in music and art, but this doesn't necessarily mean I'm arrogant. I really do go after humility in everything I do.

Yesterday before our second service at Wall Highway I was approached by a young guy whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. He's attended our church fellowship but has been out of pocket for nearly a year.

I need to interject that I've been leading music at Wall Highway for about seven years. Before that, for about 11 years, I was the pianist. Three and a half years ago I went on staff full-time and was ordained -- given all the legal rights, privileges, and tax penalties of an official "Minister of the Gospel". (I'm still hunting for "ordination" in my Bible, by the way. That is a topic for another post.)

Back to the young guy. He's been in plenty of services over the past few years. When he introduced me to a friend of his, he said, "This is Dean, our piano player."

Now, I've been introduced as a lot of things, probably "our minister of music" more than anything else. That annoys me (though only very slightly) because it makes me think of a guy in his 50's in a light brown suit. Sorry. It just does.

Anyhow, he introduced me as "our piano player," and my internal reaction was pretty instant. I almost corrected him by saying, "I'm the Worship Pastor, I mean, c'mon!" Mercifully, I thought before I spoke. I was shocked and appalled at myself, because the real motivation behind my response would have been letting him know that he had just referred to me in a much more lowly caste than the one I had achieved. I mean, I'm a professional Christian now; paid to think about theological stuff and work one day a week.

Now, just because I had this reaction doesn't mean it goes across the board with all people in full-time ministry positions. I'm not suggesting that any other pastor has an arrogance issue -- I'm just pointing out mine (remember, I'm a mere pup at only 3.5 full-time years in ministry). Whenever it's brought up, pastors are usually quick to point out that while they will be judged more stringently than others in certain areas*, they are no "better" than anyone else.

Do we all really believe that? Or have we set up an office in which legally-recognized ministers are a cut above the "normal" church people? Are we pastors the lone communicators of God's divine vision and message to the masses? Does God not speak to the non-ordained as directly or as frequently as He speaks to those with a piece of paper or a theology degree?

I'm not maligning ministers here or trying to undermine any God-given authority if it's Scriptural. On the contrary, I'm suggesting (or flatly stating, actually) that God speaks just as fluently, regularly, and with as much authority from the Word to the other members of the priesthood of believers as He does to pastors and teachers. There are some with a particular gift of presenting the Gospel in a powerful way, and that is, indeed, a special gift. However, it's not a gift that should make anyone boastful or haughty.

Have we elevated the pastorate beyond what the Word intended? I'm not dogging your pastor. Remember, I'm the one who was arrogant.

*Note that in the linked passage above, James is talking about teachers here; not specifically preachers in our currently-understood sense of the word.


Jeff said...

"Welcome back to Church Fellowship Stadium...where we are 1 out away from putting another "W" in the traditional books for the Congregational Legalists as the visting Pastors just haven't been able to get anything on the board in 8 and a half innings of play; they're down 1 run here in the bottom of the 9th as newcomer, Dean Lusk, steps back up to the plate with a 3-2 count. No runners on base, 2 out...and it's all up to the 6'1" slugger from Alabama to rally the Pastors...the pitcher looks in from the mound,...he comes set, ball hit HARD! This one's going back to the fence, centerfielder giving chase...he's back at the warning track, aaaand...THIS BALL IIIIIS GOOOOOOONNNNNNNNE!!! ...Dean Lusk...3 year veteran to the big leagues...with ANOTHER homerun...takes this one to the back-row and evens the score. We're all tied, here, at Church Fellowship Stadium ... as the crowd eagerly waits to see who will fill this empty on-deck circle..."

words are my plaything,

Dean Lusk said...

Wow... This may be the most unique comment here, ever.

Thanks for calling this one out of the park. Was a little afraid I'd nick a foul pole or something along the way.

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