Your Preacher/ Minister

I have been neglecting my blog.
Not intentionally.
It’s just life.

The real estate work Becki and I have embarked on is keeping us busy. And it is a true joy for us to work together as a team. I hope we are successful even as I hope, pray, and work toward success in a new ministry of writing and speaking.

I am writing. And studying. Wrestling with scripture. Trying to pray. And wondering.
Wondering if the God I knew before will be transformed into a God I understand better… Or rather, if I will be transformed into a man who enjoys a closer relationship than my past life entailed.

I hope so…
I desperately need it to be so.

Desperately Wanting to Believe Again isn’t about a disbelief of or a denial of God.
Not at all.

It is, however, about my personal journey.
About my emotional, mental, and spiritual healing.

It is about trying to have a new understanding of the nature of God.
How He acts, interacts, or not in the lives of men.

I have struggled with Deism a bit. It is easier for me to perceive a God who wound up the cosmos and let’ er rip (Sorry for the Beyblade terminology, I am the parent of a seven year old who is forever “letting it rip”). But while Deism might provide a particular framework to help understand why some bad things happen, it fails miserably in meeting our deepest need for a relationship with the one who made us!

And so I move forward, however slowly, seeking the answers that I need.
I am so very thankful you have embarked on this journey with me. I am grateful for the reads, follows, subscriptions, and sharing. Please continue to pass it on…

As I write what I hope will be published one day, I am enamored by the life of Jacob. In fact, up until about three or four weeks ago, the title was going to be something like A Jacob Life. But in a bit of a teaser for the discoveries I am working through and trying to process, I feel another title change coming.

Something a tad more provocative, but you’ll have to read it to ascertain it’s validity…
The Weakness Of God.

So be teased.

In the meantime, someone asked for me to expound a bit more about the insensitivity some congregations have toward their preachers.

Hmmm.
I am not sure if whole congregations should be categorized that way–although if influenced enough by a person in power, I suspect a congregation can have that particular feel or flavor.

So let me preface the following with this fact about myself: I am a prankster. A joker. A kidder. But just because you can kid somebody about something, doesn’t mean you should…

Being a person who has struggled off and on with weight issues most of my adult life, fat jokes and unasked for comments hurt. No matter who says them. Or How.

Am I too insensitive? Should I probably develop a thicker skin?
Not doubt but easier said than done.

Supposedly joking or not, I think it can be quite easy to develop a cultural contempt toward the work preachers do. Even while loving them.

I suspect you know the drill.
“You only work on Sunday.”
“How hard can it be?”
“We pay you way to much money.”
“It must be nice to get something new.”
“Preachers need to be kept poor and dependent.”
“Don’t you have some nicer looking suits?”
“Preacher’s kids are the worst kind.” (Only because we played with the elders and deacon’s kids, heathens all… Just kidding. Kind of)

I once had an elder who did despicable things. His attitude toward preachers? I quote, “preachers are a necessary evil.”

Looking back, I shudder to think how much I just laughed and went along with it.
But the truth is that kind of behavior toward the men and their families who are trying to serve God through the local church creates a toxic atmosphere–the kind that can become abusive. The kind that can drive preachers into looking for any other kind of work. Anything that will support their family and allow them a modicum of self-respect.

And ultimately, while I struggle to find a new ministry voice, I cannot fathom ever again subjecting my family to that…

Your experience may be different than mine. You may have had a preacher that did nothing but milk the system. Those kind exist, but they are not the norm.

So whether you agree or not, do yourself a favor… love your preacher. He works in sometimes difficult positions and harsh arenas. And he loves you with everything he has. Chances are, he deserves better than he gets.

I am thankful for those who minister to me…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

17 thoughts on “Your Preacher/ Minister

  1. I think it would do many of our members to remember that a Preacher is human like the rest of us. I believe many expect him to be perfect in all he does and when he fails it gives them an excuse to doubt in the word. I, myself, am so grateful for men who take on this calling, they put themselves up for more judgment and ridicule from many in the Church and outside of the Church, yet they continue on in strength. Thank you for continuing to share the word with others.

  2. Love your thoughts Les! I wish the journey was easier. Even so, in my life I have found that pain has radically changed my view of God and the church – sometimes for the good and sometimes not so much. I have found that an honest evaluation of my views (of God and church) have been so helpful in the path of healing. Mostly I have discovered that the issues were often about my narrow understandings of God, the church, pastors and the bible.

    All that said, I think that guys like us usually entertain Deistic views. I wrote about it 4 years ago at http://tinyurl.com/truthWithoutFaith.

    Have a great weekend Les!

  3. I regret that you had these experiences, Les. Also I am sorry for any preacher and/or their family who has to hear these type of insensitive comments.

    Thankfully, I can report that I have not heard anything like this personally in years (except when it is brought up as what used to be said).

    I do think that most churches have matured and moved beyond this kind of thinking (while acknowledging that it does still exists).

    So. I praise God for the churches and the good folks within them who support their ministers with God’s grace and brotherly love.

  4. I have several friends who are preachers/preachers kids, and I know from them just how hard this can be, whilst thinking they jest. We all tend to say things without first thinking of how it will affect the other person.
    Thanks for giving us a timely reminder.

  5. ran into a link to your blog from a friend on FB. look forward to watching this develop. many of my friends, and myself, have “worked” as preachers. I have heard many sad stories. and a few good stories! but, my closest friend recently commented to me, during a discussion about finances and retirement, that he would likely “die with his boots on”!! that haunts me. God bless. Jerry

  6. I’d add a few other thoughts. Some expect the preacher (and his family) to be perfect. No flaws allowed. His job can be threatened if he even makes the slightest mistake in communicating. This places an unrealistic pressure on him to live a “perfect” life. While certainly, he has the responsibility, as all Christians do, to live his best for Christ, the reality is he is still human and will fail and will hurt and will have weaknesses.

    Another unrealistic expectation that sometimes surfaces is that the preacher is on call 24/7 to do the congregation’s bidding and sometimes to do its work. This plays out in a number of ways. First, if something goes wrong in a member’s life, often there is the expectation that the preacher will be there first and longest regardless of whatever else is going on in his life or ministry. Sometimes this is to the detriment of his own family. Second, many times I have heard (as a preacher’s wife) someone say to my husband, “Why should we do that [some kind of ministry]? That’s what we pay you to do.” Some see the preacher as their surrogate service. If we hire a preacher with our hard earned money, then we have absolved ourselves of any individual responsibility to serve, visit, minister, teach, etc.

    One more, then I’ll quit. Some congregations see their preachers as expendable. If we don’t like the way you speak, dress, use your time, use your money, etc., then you’re out of here. Sometimes with little or no warning. Congregations sometimes put a minister through a microscope test that no one can pass flawlessly, then fire him when the inevitable flaws are revealed. Or sometimes it isn’t a matter of flaw, rather more of personal preferences or interests – not even connected to doctrinal or moral matters.

    All of this to say, “treat other people (even your preacher and his family) the same way you want people to treat you.”

    • Rachel, you speak truth.

      While I both agree and disagree with Danny’s earlier comment, I think the majority have moved on from saying these kinds of hurtful things but the thoughts are still there (and sometimes their thoughts come through loud and clear not by what they say but what they do and how they do it).

      As the son of a minister, I never fully understood the frustrations of the church’s insensitivity. As a minister, I see them full on. I have to regularly read Col 3:23-24 just to keep myself going some days.

      Much love to ministers of every kind (and yes you to, Les. You may not feel you have found your new ministry but I and everyone else here can see that you have).

  7. Having been a preacher for 30 years, and having endured those “light-hearted” comments from friends and foes alike, I now make a point of being an encourager to our preacher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *