Most pastors, at some point in their careers, seek jobs that simply pay the bills. Perhaps they have not found a church yet, or perhaps the church they are in is a volunteer situation. Either way…it is a common occurrence and these pastors know that this is what they must do at least for a season.
Years ago, I was hired to work in a hardware store. This is not my area of knowledge, so some of the products and their uses confused me. It was obvious that I was not going to be employee of the month any time soon. Tools, lumber, doors, windows, shutters, and locks were not things that really interested me. I was pretty good at making a sale though…I knew enough to talk about what I was selling to get them to the cash register.
On one occasion, there was an older woman who came into the store in the midst of a bad mood. She said words that made my eyebrows raise and she needed a particular product…and she needed it NOW. I told her I would be right with her and I searched for her product. With each key I stuck on the keyboard, this woman became more enraged. She was obviously in a hurry and told me that the previous hardware store did not treat her well. You guessed it….the product she was looking for was on back order. Fast forward through the raised voice and stomping out.
My supervisor knew that I was a pastor by trade. After each tense moment in our job (which simply came with the territory in retail) he would say the same phrase. “Landon, this isn’t your church work….this is the real world…get used to it.” The first time I heard him say this, I nodded my head and moved on, but after a few times, I realized that he was more inaccurate than I once thought.
The real world? This is the real world?
I realized that what I did all day was meet customers who I never saw again, and sold them a product that I knew little about. Sometimes they would be happy with my recommendation, sometimes they would not be, and other times they came in angry to begin with (such as the lady above).
My supervisor thought that I was out of my element and he was absolutely right. I was actually used to the real world….not the fake one I was standing in.
In the “real world” he was describing; how many times did he sit down with a freshly divorced lady and comfort her as she talks about the deeper issue. How many times, selling doors, will I talk to a young teen who will admit she has been cutting herself to get attention. The adulterer? The alcoholic? The couple that needs counseling? The man who has it all together and is contemplating suicide? I usually just met with customers for about 5 minutes and never got to know them, or sit with them in their home after the loss of their grandparent as they weep uncontrollably.
When you say the phrase “real world” what do you mean? Often we never actually get to see this side.
The fact is God wants us to be in the real world, and bind the wounds of those who are deeply hurting. Wake up from the theatrical production you may be in, and develop deep relationships.