Three Pastors Walk Into a Bar

Erik Cooper —  March 3, 2011 — 2 Comments

A Lutheran, Baptist, and Pentecostal pastor walk into a bar…

You were expecting a punchline? No, I’m serious. Well, sort of (only the Lutheran pastor would actually admit to walking into a bar). Roll with the analogy here.

Just weeks before the launch of CityCom, my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange and I were summoned to the offices of some “out of our normal ministry circle” friends. Guys we’d known for awhile, but who wanted to up the ante. Here was their challenge:

“To this point, you’ve been playing the equivalent of ministry ‘high school basketball.’ Today you’re making a leap to the pros. In high school, you can get away with only knowing how to dribble with your right hand. But the pros will destroy you. We want to help you learn to dribble with your left hand, too.”

They didn’t know I was a natural lefty, but I went with it anyway. And the awkward journey towards ambidexterity began.

They’ve counseled us. Digging skillfully and lovingly into the broken places.

They’ve prayed with us. For our personal lives, our church, and together for our city.

They’ve connected us. With other pastors and leaders, from every denomination and spiritual pedigree, who don’t just pastor their church, but together pastor The Church here in Indianapolis.

We share our lives. Our fears. Our questions. Our weaknesses. And through it we become stronger.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”2 Cor. 12:9

Vulnerability doesn’t scare me (Well, I guess that’s a lie. Some days it does feel like an M. Night Shyamalan movie). It’s the realization I thought I could handle the pressures of pastoring without it that’s truly terrifying. It should scare you, too.

The average pastor lasts about four years. One Presidential term. And many that persevere grow cynical, bitter, and resentful of their position (or their wives and families do). Could this have a little something to do with it?

None of us can withstand the pressure of appearing to have it all together. We’re all broken. Fearful. In need of the love, grace, and forgiveness of the Father. We need each other. Strength doesn’t come from pretending we’ve arrived, but in admitting we’re still on the journey. (Even if the word “pastor” is in your title).

And the same goes for you. Do you have these types of honest relationships in your life? Who are you vulnerable with? Are you learning to dribble with both hands?

2 responses to Three Pastors Walk Into a Bar

  1. I really needed that! Thank you for being open and real! What is my hope is that in all of our collective realness, that isn’t the only story! Because God and His Word are jamming themselves between all of our life bricks, and building something that we aren’t even actually fully aware of. I love Him! I love how you show us parts of Him that you can see! I find your blog fantastic because it is like a gentle, funny, cleansing, strengthening, convesation. Thank you!

  2. Eric, I love your writing… Not because it is profound as much as you provide an honest mirror where we can see our zit(s) (lets be honest, there are more than one… and the closer we walk with God, the more become visible.) Your mirror also provides the means to a deeper look into the heart and soul of who we are … and who we are in Christ.

    You are not afraid to show your humanness and the struggles, fears and challenges we all must face as we walk what we believe. You even challenge yourself and us to consider the “why” we believe and do the things we do.

    I guess (not that I would know) the “pressure of pastoring” (in part) is the stealth expectation of satisfying everyone’s spiritual hunger. They come because pastors can lead them in and to the Way. Jesus will satisfy all our hungers. I think trouble is inevitable, when the congregation gets a liking for human flesh with that meal… and things will degenerate from there.

    [I remember Pastor Terry Harris preaching on the ministry dangers of the three “Gs.” Either one would cause your fall and failure… (the Gold, the Girls and the Glory.) I suppose the “glory” is part of what I was referring to in the former paragraph.] (It’s been almost 20 years since I heard his message, but truth has a way of sticking around.)

    Speaking of truth, I like what you said “None of us can withstand the pressure of appearing to have it all together. We’re all broken. Fearful. In need of the love, grace, and forgiveness of the Father. We need each other. Strength doesn’t come from pretending we’ve arrived, but in admitting we’re still on the journey.” Amen and Amen.

    I think one of your gifts is, you are a “natural lefty” … I wonder if that has anything to do with that “mirror” you are so apt at providing? (That mirror being another gift.)

    By the way, this morning’s C. H. Spurgen’s “Morning and Evening Devotional” highlighted your selected Scripture also… “My grace is sufficient for thee.”—2 Corinthians 12:9 http://www.spurgeon.org/morn_eve/this_morning.cgi

    What are the odds? Maybe God is trying to get a point across. : )

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*