I know there are a lot of pre-conceived stereotypes about pastors out there.
Pastors must always be in a prayerful state.
Pastors must never spend time caring about “worldly” things like fashion or hairstyles or what the latest Hollywood news is.
Pastor must always be looking for spiritual themes in the movies they view.
Pastors must always have their Bible near and be meditating on it day and night.
Yet, for most pastors types I hang out with, these stereotypes are far from true. Yes, we may be a little more into the land of spiritual things than the average person, but we are not walking, talking, always super-spiritual beings. Why? Because it just isn’t possible. Pastors are human beings too. We are on our own spiritual journey of discovering more of God just like everyone else. It just so happens that it is our calling is to lead as we figure things out too.
I make this preface for the story I am about to tell because I worry without the preface you’d begin to assume I was holier than is actually possible.
I was sitting in my sermon writing chair thinking a lot about John 12:1-8 in preparation for last Sunday’s sermon on pride when I hear a knock at the door.
Normally I wouldn’t have answered the door because 1) I don’t like to be interrupted when I am trying to have this kind of intentional thinking (which is why I work from home on Fridays)
2) I just don’t like answering the door when I’m at home alone.
But, I sprang up and did go to the door because it was 2 pm and I was expecting a guest at 2:30. “They just must be early!” I thought.
However, much to my surprise, when I opened the door, it wasn’t my friend or anyone I knew, but two older women in nice dresses, hats and heels. They didn’t look scary so I at least felt a bit more at ease. But this was until they opened their mouths.
“We’d like to invite you to our Jesus rally on March 30th. Here’s a pamphlet.”
Before I could interject anything they went on: “We’re from the church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. And we are here today to tell you more about the Bible.”
(I’m thinking to myself: “Wow. I can’t believe this is happening to me. . . if they only knew“).
“Well,” I replied. “It’s nice of you to come by today, but I want you to know that I am pastor myself and I’m working on my sermon right now. I was actually just reading my Bible when you knocked on my door.”
To which one of the women replied the usual: “Wow, you are so young? How can you be a pastor? Do you have your own church?”
“Yes, I’m young. I went to seminary for training. Yes, I have my own church. It’s in Reston.”
They agreed to let me get back to my work if they could ask me a couple more questions. I could tell they were very curious and inquired more about my seminary training: “So when you went to seminary were there men and women together?”
“Yes, at least half my class contained female students.”
“And what were the reason cited for these students attending? Did they come to earn a career or to do the will of God?”
Knowing this might be a trick question I answered, “Both. It’s great when God’s will for your life actually gives you a paycheck so you don’t have to do another job along with ministry.”
Though these women kept starring at me (like we didn’t expect this!), they proceeded on with their learned speech. No concern for the context whatsoever.
“So, we have some scriptures we want to show you about the coming of Christ and his chosen ones. Do you know where to find Psalms in the Bible?”
Trying not to laugh (of course I know where Psalms is), I listened as respectfully as I could. Then, interjected that I really had to get back to my sermon.
When the two asked what it was about I told the story about Mary anointing the feet of Jesus in Bethany, what it meant for Jesus to be given such a gift, etc.
They were amazed that I had things to say about the Bible (I guess, again, no one they’ve met has wanted to talk to them about the Bible before).
And, again, one woman hit the other woman and reminded her to go back to the speech of showing me scripture verses. Luckily, after a while I finally got back to my sermon . . .
While comical, I am always amazed at the perseverance of groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons have in particular– for their evangelism focus shows more zeal than most Protestants or Catholics will ever know.
But that the same time, the lack of understanding of context in this encounter really struck me.
Were these women just doing what some authoritative leader asked them to do or did they really believe it? It seem to me if they believe it personally there might have been more initiative to go off script if they were truly interested in converting me.
It’s all right. I’m happy to be what I am. And I’m a little more motivated again this week to think about the ways my life is bearing witness to the story of Jesus which is forming my life, over and over and over again. Even when witnessing women show up at my door . . .