The words to Sarah McLachlan’s song Black and White keep echoing in my head today. You know them? “ . . . everybody loves you when you’re easy, everybody hates when you’re a bore; everyone is waiting for your entrance so don’t disappoint them . . . everybody loves you when you’re easy so don’t disappoint them . . . don’t disappoint them . . . .”
Life’s hard at the moment. All my hang-your-hopes feelings about the healing power of the community of faith have proven to be rather . . . uh, pollyanna-ish, these past weeks. (That’s actually very surprising, as I am a very committed pessimist who can expertly find the negative in most anything. It’s a gift.)
But the thing is that I take my role as a leader who models healthy community very seriously, so when cracks appear it feels disheartening. And I’m the one who is supposed to be carrying the banner of hope and optimism, so when I feel disheartened I find it difficult to do my job well.
Specifically I’ve lately been finding it such a dismal curiosity that situations completely untenable in “normal” life are acceptable within the church. I think it’s because we church folks sometimes promote the fallacy that “healthy” means “conflict-free”, but the reality of human interaction means conflict is part of life.
And when you’re supposed to be in charge, sometimes you have to manage conflict.
In fact, be rather boorish, as Sarah would sing. Then everybody DOESN’T love you, which is a violation of the basic (admittedly misguided) quest of preacherdom: Everybody like me! Everybody like me! Everybody like me!
It’s true that one of the hardest parts of being the preacher is taking the criticism. I sometimes think that we take more criticism in our positions than in any other profession I have ever heard of (whenever I am fielding a comment about my hair or a suggestion about my preaching I always wonder if the person speaking would ever consider offering the same to their doctor . . . lawyer . . . dentist?).
Such a challenge . . . to be loved by everybody all the while being a ready target for criticism in doing our jobs. Can we do it? Can we pull off the impossible?
So far no luck.
Here’s the good news. My mother in law says that some days are good and some days you have to remember that not everybody loved Jesus.
I guess he wasn’t easy.
And even though it’s likely I’ll disappoint them, today I hope I’m not either.