I hate criticizing people. Actually, I like criticizing people, but over the years have found that it tends to move whomever I’m criticizing to criticize me back, which is much less fun. The best solution I’ve found is to talk about people behind their backs. I think that’s really a win-win for all.
But now I must speak out directly! I must! Not doing so will make my eyeballs hurt! And then I’ll have to put iodine in them! And then my screaming will disturb the neighbors! So that’s out.
Do you know that I’m quite sure that one of my immediate neighbors works as a … well, never mind.
The criticism that’s threatening my eyes isn’t actually a criticism at all; it’s a loving, encouraging suggestion. And it is this: If you are a pastor or a Famous Christian Leader, consider the possibility that maybe, when you’re up at the lectern, or doing your thing before the cameras or microphones, you could loosen up a little. Relax! Be who you really are, instead of who you think you’re supposed to be.
Ah. It’s already like I’ve jammed cucumbers into my eyes, or whatever that is you’re supposed to do with cucumbers to make your eyes feel good.
I make this call to Personality Cleavage (that is, cleaving to one’s personality) because in my professional life as a lunch mooch and meeting crasher, I have had a fair number of occasions to hang with people whose job it is to essentially represent God to truly vast numbers of people. And I’m always sitting around with these people, and they might be having a drink or two, the way normal people do when they’re hanging out with their friends, and they’ll be way funnier than you’d think. (Or that I expected, anyway.) And I don’t mean the kind of humor where you chuckle with restrained verve and then ask someone to pass the rolls. I’m talking Teamster humor. Rude stuff. Jokes that make you wish you hadn’t just taken a bite of a roll.
But then, later, I’ll see those same people on TV, or hear them on the radio, or whatever, and it’s like they’d gotten attacked and treated by a taxidermist. They’ve gone from Richard Pryor to Maury Shaffer. It’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Church Lady. From Gildna Radner to Aunt Bea. From Willie to Principal Skinner. From … well, you get the idea.
Half of them—or a third of them, maybe—is gone.
I understand, Christian Leaders, that in your capacity as a representative of our Lord you naturally feel obliged to act dignified and … like a person who doesn’t keep a whoopie cushion on them at all times. Of course. All I’m suggesting is that sometimes, when you’re alone, you might want to take a moment or two to discern whether or not too great a distance has developed between who you are as a ministry leader, and who you really are. It’s when you allow those two things to become too divergent that you set the stage for trouble that’ll send your whole show into the ground.
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