Don’t You Know Who I Am?

August 31, 2009

Anyone ever met a pastor that just weirded you out?

A survey done by The Church of No People Institute finds that approximately 100% of people have at least one time been weirded out by a pastor. A large percentage allegedly are usually weirded out by pastors. Nearly 100% of pastors report that they are nearly always weirded out by at least one pastor. This makes pastors and politicians some of the most likely people to weird people out.

It’s not like pastors haven’t asked for it. People think they know what a pastor is. They see guys with poofy hair and shiny suits on TV asking for money and slapping people with their coats to heal them. That’s a pastor. They know what to expect in church before they even walk in the door. Pastors have too much ego and not enough money.

I was working as a cashier in a retail store when a pastor came into my line to buy something. How did I know he was a pastor? Because he was wearing a baseball cap that proudly said ‘Pastor.’

Now despite the fact that I thought that was the most hokey thing besides wearing a giant foam hand with ‘#1 Pastor’ on it, I decided to strike up a conversation. I was in seminary at the time, and thought that it would be neat to make a random connection. So I told him that.

I barely got a glance from him. I think he grunted at me.

Really, dude? I just told you I want to be like you, and you just shut me down? Thanks for nothing. I didn’t realize the cap meant that I wasn’t to speak unless spoken to. Look out everyone, it’s a Pastor! Everyone stand back! He probably wears the cap just in case he gets pulled over by a cop. Then while the cop is writing him a ticket, he can shout, “Don’t you know who I am? I am a man of GOD! Read the cap!”

The vast majority of pastors are great, personable, humble guys. But there’s a few that just make it so hard for the rest of us.

The problem compounds itself by the fact that many people outside the church have expectations of what a pastor is (the ego, the hair, whatever). Then whenever they meet a pastor who actually doesn’t meet that expectation (which would be almost all of them), they don’t know what to do. It’s like they’re weirded out that a seemingly normal guy would be a pastor. They’d rather have a complete tool of a pastor, because they know what to do with him. But a normal pastor? Doesn’t make sense. So they get all awkward around me, trying to figure out what to say and end the conversation quickly. Awkward like running into your old girlfriend with your current girlfriend. Awkward like this…

Begin awkward conversation now…

I get the look quite a bit. Granted, there are plenty of people who are delighted I’m a pastor. But they’re usually already Christians. Sunday afternoon, I had a non-church speaking engagement. Afterward, someone politely asked about my church, and I told him about our house church. He did a really poor job of hiding his weirded-out-ness with the whole thing. He obviously regretted asking me as he left by saying, “More power to you…” Trust me, it was all in how he said it. It really depressed me, even though I knew I nailed the speech I had just given. So I’ve got the double-weird going. I’m a pastor, and not just that, but a pastor of a non-conventional church. I meet no one’s expectations, and they can’t stand it.

So every once in a while, someone will treat me like I’m ‘special’ in the politically-correct sense of the word. Not like a normal guy who deserves respect, but like someone who you pity.

Would you rather I meet all of your expectations? Would you rather I act like a complete tool who flunked out of used-car-salesman-school? Maybe I should just start every conversation by prophesying and asking for love offerings.

But I knew what I was getting into. My Dad warned me all about it.

I guess we’re all going to weird people out once in a while. Do you ever weird people out with your faith? Pastors, I especially want to hear from you. Do you have to prop up the conversation because people suddenly don’t know what to say when they find out your profession? What kind of awkward social situations have you found yourselves in?