Pastors can act like used car salesmen – slick-meisters who can tell great fish stories and who have great personality when the klieg lights burn bright, but lack any real warmth or humanity when the lights go out. I know this because it can be true of me when I’m not careful. I can be one person in public and another in private.
As I finish this month of remembering and thinking about pastors and pastoring, I’ve saved the best for last. I grew up as a P.K. which simply means I am a “Preacher’s Kid.” My dad served as the lead pastor of churches in Seattle Washington, Hayward CA and Livermore CA over the span of many years. I could tell you a lot of things that I admired and still admire about my Dad. I admire him for the way he loved people who weren’t like him. I can still remember all the hippies coming to our church in Hayward during the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s. He just hung out with them, letting them play pool and ping-pong, drinking coffee, and playing Jesus-music on their guitars as they learned about the Gospel. I admire him and my mom for inviting hippies to our house for dinner to love them and accept them in the name of Jesus even when they’d just dropped acid before dinner and threw up all over the family dinner table in front of their 3 young sons. I admire him for realizing he didn’t fully understand the Gospel himself. In the middle of his pastoral career he realized he’d become cornered in an overly intellectualized faith that watered down the real power of the Gospel. So he humbly sought to be re-trained in the ministry by Ray Stedman and the pastors at Peninsula Bible Church. I admire him for the way he communicated the bible in a way that was clear and easy to apply. I could go on.
The biggest reason I admire my dad is simply because he was the same person in public as he was in private. Too many PK’s go off the rails because they see hypocrisy in their parents. They see the public pastor version of dad presenting himself as a “bible-answer-man-with-everything-together-in-my-life” kind of person while in private being a completely different person. This does incredible damage to preacher’s kids, and ultimately to the people of that pastor’s church. I’m so thankful that my dad spoke to me the way he spoke to the people of the church and that he was the same person up front on Sunday morning that he was with our family in private. It is so important that pastors be congruent; meaning they are the same when the lights are on as when the lights are off. Thanks for being congruent Dad! I’m trying to walk in those same steps myself even to this day.