When I was a kid, one of my favorite books from my parents’ bookshelf was Poppa Was a Preacher by Alyene Porter. While I now don’t remember all that much of it (and would love to find it again to read), my memory of it is that I enjoyed it so much because it sounded so much like my own life!
My father was a preacher…in fact, for most of my childhood until after I was married, he was in leadership in my denomination.
There were–from my perspective–some wonderful advantages…travel to many different states…meeting people and making relationships that have lasted for years…travel abroad…a wide perspective of musical instruments (especially organs–and learning how to play different ones)…a broadening understanding of how each person’s faith journey is unique to them…
Of course, there were also some big disadvantages…Dad being gone sometimes on special occasions…getting tired of hearing the same stories and doing the same crafts at multiple family camps during the summer…people expecting us kids to be perfect examples of how children should behave…
One thing I’ve become particularly aware of through the years is that despite our best attempts, it is often difficult to let ministers and their families be “human.” When their children act out–as children will do–somehow it’s worse when your parent is a minister. When the minister gets grumpy…or forgets someone’s name…it’s an appalling failure of ministerial responsibilities.
And–unfortunately–we tend to often believe the worst. I know this isn’t limited to ministers and their families, but that’s the perspective I’ve seen it from. Sadly, there have been too many examples of ministers “proving” that they are hypocrites…becoming rich from the financial offerings of those they are supposed to serve…and so on.
Recently I saw some posts accusing individuals I’ve known for years of misusing church funds in various ways or benefitting from “insider” information about church property. I have to confess that it made me angry. These were (and are) individuals who have given their lives to bringing a loving ministry in the service of the church. They are individuals who could have had well-paying jobs in the non-church world…and some did, but left them because they were responding to a call to ministry.
Am I saying they were perfect? No. I’m well aware that no minister is perfect. Have I agreed with every decision or choice they’ve made? No. But were/are they people of integrity? Absolutely!
Why is it so easy for us to believe the worst? I’m all for healthy skepticism at times…for raising questions when there are concerns. But I am not for spreading rumors based on “confidential” information that can’t be shared. If there are questions, go to the source…or to those whose responsibility is it to ensure oversight.
Preachers are people just like all of us…with flaws and warts, with human failings. But they are also people who respond to a call to something greater.
Yes, poppa was a preacher. So was momma…so am I. And we need your support…your challenges at times…and your willingness to walk with us and our children.