Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Preacher Perfect"?

This past weekend a group of us went up to VA to camp out for a couple of nights and bike the Virginia Creeper trail.  My great uncle Hunter grew up in Abingdon, and I can always remember this because he would tell everyone that he was born at the place "where Paul was struck blind"... on the road to Damascus.  We humored him ;)

Numbers wise, all agree it was a huge success... weather wise... it depends on who you ask.  It was cold.  Really cold.  On top of the cold, it rained the entire time we were there except for the moments when it would break up the monotony of rain with sleet or snow (breathtakingly beautiful snow at over 6,000 ft - although somewhat diminished when you're riding down hill into it on a bicycle).

Everyone truly did have a great time:  the kids played on God's playground like it was the greatest thing in the world; Emily cried one time the entire trip, and that was when we were packing up to leave and she wanted to stay and camp "for a long time".

There are tons of things that make this a great trip every year:  beautiful scenery, camping out a couple of nights, biking the creeper (I cringe every time I call it "biking" seen as how for 75% of the 17 miles you don't even need pedals just brakes), roasting s'mores over the campfire, and (a personal favorite) zero cell phone coverage for 3 days.  However, none of those things truly "make" the trip.  The trip is made by the people that go.  I found myself surrounded by family every where I looked - true friends, true family, brothers and sisters in Christ who are all there just because we all love spending time together; it really wouldn't matter where or how we were doing it.

And that's what struck me.  See, this whole "preacher" thing is kind of new to me, so I don't always know the 'rules'.  One of the things I was a bit surprised (somewhat sadly understanding) to find out is that many ministers avoid such get togethers, trips, and "non-sanctioned/non-structured" Church activities out of fear of people seeing their humanity.  They have anxiety over people seeing their faults, seeing them "mess up", hearing them speak casually -- finding out they are human.

Though it is sad to think about, and somewhat shocking at first blush, when you really become honest with the reality of the situation, you sadly have to see their point, even if you don't agree (as I do not).  People want their preachers to be perfect, they want their ministers to speak in iambic pentameter, they want them to never say anything they shouldn't, never get frustrated, never have to discipline a child, never be... real.
Too often, people want their ministers to be honest about themselves, but not too honest, and when the first date goggles wear off, there's often trouble in paradise.
To me, I would go on these trips no matter what - I've always gone on them and I love them.  But now, in thinking about it that way, I want to always make a conscientious decision to go so that I guarantee people will get to see me mess up (it doesn't take long, certainly doesn't take a whole trip, in fact, if you have 30 minutes for lunch we could probably settle it there).  Seriously - I don't ever want to become so removed that people forget that I'm human, that I'm a sinner, that I'm a wholly imperfect being created by the only perfect being so knows me, sees my faults, forgave me, forgives me, and graciously loves me unconditionally.

Do you expect Christians to be perfect?
Are you afraid, as a Christina, that people will see you not being perfect?

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