Clergy Are People Too

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Sep 19, 2015

“Don’t let your lips and your life preach two different messages.”

Since most of us in the Philadelphia area have been hearing a lot about the pending visit of Pope Francis, I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the interesting things people have said to or about the clergy.

Years ago my wife Evie was the administrative assistant for the pastor of a large church in the Midwest. A parishioner phoned the church office one Monday morning asking to speak with the pastor. After explaining that he was off on Mondays, the caller blurted out, “Must be nice to have a three-day weekend.”

As gracious as she could, Evie described a typical weekend for a typical pastor. Saturdays were always filled with making sure all the details were in place for Sunday and, additionally, many Saturdays were committed for wedding ceremonies and even funerals. Of course, Sundays were anything but a day off for a pastor. The caller replied that she had never thought of those things.

A wonderful pastor was encouraging a group of pastors by explaining that criticism could come from just about any direction. He is quite slender and he actually had one of his parishioners come up to him and say, “I want you to know that you can’t be my pastor because you’re not fat enough to be my pastor.” I was not in the meeting when he said that but when I saw him this summer he confirmed that it was true. 

Here are a few more that I came across which are just about as ridiculous:

​- Your socks are distracting.
​- I don’t like the color of the towels in the women’s restroom.
​- We need to start attracting more normal people to our church.
​- I developed cancer because you don’t preach from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
​- Your wife never complimented me about my hair or dress.
​- Not enough people signed up for the church golf tournament. You have poor leadership skills. 
​- If Jesus sang from the red hymnals, why can’t we?
​- You didn’t wrap the hot dogs in bacon for the church picnic.
​- Why don’t you ever preach on Tim Tebow?
​- The eggs were not scrambled enough at the senior adult breakfast.
​- We are leaving the church because you have a red cross on the building. That’s the color of the devil.

Another pastor’s appearance was criticized when someone told him, “I can’t pay attention to your sermon because your tie isn’t tied with a Windsor knot.”

At the November board meeting a few years ago, two members asked a pastor if she was cancelling worship services on Christmas Day because it fell on Sunday and if she was cancelling church on Super Bowl Sunday because they had a team in it. The preacher laughed but the questioners didn’t. 

Even Pope Francis is a person. Did you know he likes basketball and has played it over the years; he enjoys the tango and pizza and making his own lists and calling people on the phone himself; he has chosen never to watch television; and he has a Twitter account? 

If there are people in your life who serve in the clergy, next time you see them you may want to see them through normal, human eyes. Yes, their calling is sacred and their responsibilities are lofty but they too have their feet on the ground. Clergy are indeed people too.

I once heard it said that a preacher can go a whole month on a compliment. As we give appropriate honor to “The People’s Pope,” let’s not forget to give honor to others whom honor is also due, i.e., all the clergy we know who are close by and who impact us in countless personal ways. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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