Friday, July 07, 2006

The Secret Lives of Preachers

There is a festering boil on your minister’s butt.

Give yourself a second to let that image sink in…your minister, bending over, pants around ankles, butt exposed, red, drippy, pussy boil staring at you like a cycloptic eye.

(If you’re Catholic you won’t have to imagine, just remember Father McFeelme when you were a boy. Ahhh…that’s it.)

The recent infamous murder of a Church of Christ minister in Selmer, Tennessee by his wife is simply a caricature for the reality going on in most ministry homes today. It’s an exaggerated expression of what most ministry families feel every day.

In court documents this week Mary Winkler described the emotions and events leading up to the murder. This account was recorded at

“She told police she had an ‘uneasy feeling’ after she put her children to bed March 21 and her husband ‘started ranting about problems he was having and personal feelings about the church administration.’”

So, she blew a crater in his back with a shot gun.

But what does this have to do with your minister? (Remember, he’s the guy with a pussy bump on his posterior.)

When we hire ministers today, we have high expectations. More than high. We expect them to be perfect.

Before you differ, let me ask you…

What would you do if you found out your minister lost his temper and cussed out a ref at a high school basketball game?

How would you respond to him if his 15 year old daughter got pregnant?

What emotions would it stir up in you if you found out his wife was a chain smoker or his son had a Mohawk and sang in a punk band?

Now how would your response be different if we weren’t talking about your minister but were instead talking about someone you work with?

Yeah, I know.

It would take a race of highly developed super-humans to live the expected lifestyle. Perfect faith, perfect family, perfect finances, perfect dispositions, perfect words, perfect dress.

What’s the result of these unrealistic expectations? Fear.

The average minister is in constant fear of rejection from his congregation. What if no one comes to the service? What if they don’t like my sermon? What if someone finds out that my finances are in a shambles? What happens if someone opens that cabinet and finds my Seagram’s?

It’s a ton of pressure. 24/7/365. While some ministers in huge churches get their share of privacy and down time, the reality faced by most is no days off, no real relationships, constant scrutiny by the whole community.

As a result of this constant pressure, ministers often pressure their families to be perfect as well. Over time that pressure can build to an overwhelming load, tearing families apart. Spouses leave. Children rebel.

All the time the church clucks its collective tongue and wags its enormous head.

“Too bad about Pastor Smith.”

“Yeah, who knew he was having so many problems at home.”

“Can’t really blame the church for letting him go—after all, you can’t have someone with those problems at home in the pulpit.”

And the puss continues to seep.

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