Friday, May 28, 2010

Pastor Lehman? Call me Eric

I’ll be completely honest with you: I really wrestled with my calling to be a pastor. I’ve always enjoyed being the guy that will grab a beer (if that offends you, I meant root beer) with somebody and just talk about life. I liked living out my faith in the midst of the real world. I liked being “one of the guys”, but just with different values. Unfortunately sitting in a cubicle punching numbers into my calculator (or excel spreadsheet) to determine the spacing and embed depth of the anchor bolts for my steel column (and that’s an easy one!) was draining me. My passions and gifts were calling me elsewhere.

I was also scared of going to seminary and working at a church because it meant I would be working with a demographic that is sometimes hard to get along with: Christians. We can often be judgmental and unloving in the midst of sharing our message of love. Our hypocrisy is what keeps many people away! And we all disagree with each other, and spend too much time arguing over things that divide us instead of looking for things that unify us. Sounds great! Sign me up!

I finally gave in and became Pastor Lehman. Luckily the oxymoronic aspects of that title allow me to either speak with spiritual authority, or as a simple layperson, depending on the situation. Over the past 6 months since I became an official pastor, I have noticed benefits and drawbacks.

- I have had the privilege of being invited into situations and conversations that I never would have if I was not a pastor. I have been blessed by watching some men take critical and monumental steps in their journey of faith. I would not have been able to witness this without the title “pastor”, or at least having the job that I do. This is a huge benefit that outweighs the drawbacks.

- Also, there are certain sacraments that I now have the honor of administering. I baptized somebody for the first time this year, and will officiate my first wedding in the fall. At first these opportunities caused some anxiety, because I recognized the significance of these moments and decisions. What if I said the wrong thing? What if their baptism/wedding is marred by my idiotic mumbling?! I then told myself to be quiet and enjoy what God was inviting me into!


- I think the title can be a barrier at times. Small talk with strangers often leads to the infamous question, “So what do you do?”. “Um, I’m a pastor”. For a small percentage of people, I then spend the next 15 minutes explaining how that is different than a priest and how I’m not only allowed to get married, but it is completely affirmed! For an even smaller percentage, they get excited and ask questions. For a majority, their countenance changes. “Oh, you need to go grab a drink? Completely understand, it’s a bit warm in here.” “You need to get back to your book? Yeah, I might watch the in-flight movie.” (I rarely do that, but said that so you knew my example was on an airplane. Genius!!)

- I end up being stereotyped at times. A person may think I’m a square, or cheesy, or judgmental, or that I can’t talk about anything other than Jesus. Regardless, they are not comfortable around me and analyze every move. This isn’t everybody, but a percentage.

- I have to pray for every meal, because supposedly I am an expert in praying. Its part of my job!!

The hardest thing for me is when people think they cannot relate to me. The title “pastor” creates a barrier for them. The reality is, I have a long way to go in my journey of being more Christ-like. I am broken and make mistakes, just like everybody else. True, I may know a little bit more about God and the Bible than the average church-goer, especially since I went to seminary. But I’m on a continuous journey trying to understand Jesus more and how his life, death, and resurrection practically apply to my life. I just happen to find extreme joy in helping others on their journey as I learn how to navigate mine. I love to learn your story, and hopefully help you take one step closer to understanding God’s love for you. I’m just another Christian guy, who is also a pastor. You can call me Eric. (or handsome, like my wife)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pondering #1 - Car Insurance

It is difficult for me to always look at life through a "serious" lens. Many of my ponderings in life add no value to the society around me, but merely entertain me (and sometimes others). Such a pondering follows....

So it feels like every other commercial I hear on the radio, and maybe every third commercial I fastforward through on my TV, is about car insurance. Geico will save you 15% if you spend 5 minutes of your time with a gecko. Progressive will compare their quote with all the others to guarantee savings. I always hear AIS on the Mikey Show and how they will save you hundreds, if not thousands, a year. Then there is All State, State Farm, and Farm All (it’s only in Lancaster County…. Ok, ok, I made it up).

Here is the logical conundrum I find myself in. Every car insurance company is promising the lowest price on car insurance. At least way lower than the price you are paying right now. How can every car insurance company be offering the lowest quote at the exact same time?! There are only a few possibilities.

My first thought: The insurance companies will continually beat each others prices, since they desire to be true to their word, and the trajectory of this glorious reality is we will all eventually have free car insurance!!! This is awesome! (Dear economy wiz: don’t test my logic, just get excited)

Second possibility: There is a devious, and quite shrewd, car insurance company out there, that remains a mystery, but has somehow convinced the great masses to buy their overpriced car insurance. And now that the internet has finally taken off in the past year, people are starting to realize how much money they can save with these other companies. But don’t worry overpriced car insurance company who is losing all their clients….. I’m sure the government will bail you out (political stab with no willingness or ammunition to back it up).

The third possibility: the car insurance companies are promising things they cannot follow through with, or they are saving their money in customer service and/or shoddy policies. I just fell asleep writing this “Hey, let’s approach this realistically” option, so let’s rule it out.

I’m personally subscribing to possibility number one, and have adjusted my budget accordingly. Any votes or proposed possibilities?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reflections of a 3-week old Father

Yes. I have been a father for 3 weeks now. Since a few have asked my thoughts, I decided to share my reflections as I’ve taken on this new role.
The backdrop you should know:
  • I read zero books in preparation for this life-changing role.
  • I have rarely hung out with kids throughout my life, except when I was a kid of course. When I walk into Floodkids (children’s ministry at my church), I panic and stare at the kids as if they are speaking a different language that I no hablo. Don’t get me wrong… I have always loved kids, but more from a distance.
  • I love my nieces and nephew, but my best way of connecting with them has produced the nickname: Crazy Uncle Eric.
  • I had never changed a diaper, watched a video on how to change a diaper, or even spent any logical energy in assessing the best tactics for said diaper-changing. (I’m sure I’ll share my first diaper change at some point)
So, here are some noticings, with the more trivial coming first:
1. Half of my times with Avery so far seem to be when she is not the happiest. I often change her diaper in the midst of the transition from Leftie to Rightie (or vice versa). This means that she is still hungry, so feeling the cool air on her bottom is not her first choice. Luckily she connects my voice to that, and the following scenario….

2. I keep thinking that I am hurting her when I change her diaper because she is crying. Which makes me wipe more gently. Which means it takes me longer. Which means Avery feels the cold air longer. Which means she cries more. Which means I am ultimately shooting myself in the foot.

3. I am not good at making songs up. And most of the songs in my head are not kid-friendly. So I end up singing “Jesus Loves Me” around 27 times in a row. I am currently working on a modified version of a DC talk song, which will be titled, “The Easy Way.”

4. I continually ask Avery “What’s wrong?”, despite knowing full well that she cannot answer that question. I also tell her “You’re okay!”, when I have no clue. Sometimes I have an entire conversation with her with her continual response being the monkey face.

5. Avery seems to have a lot of the same tastes as my wife. I have made this realization through several statements from Tatum. “Avery would like you to shave.” “Avery wants you to put some cologne on.” Weird, I can almost hear her mother making those same requests.

A few more significant…..
6. I have often felt disconnected. I can’t feed Avery, which is her absolute favorite thing to do in the world! She is often more calm in Mom’s arms then she is in mine. I’m actually okay with this, since she has known Mom for 9 months longer than me. And Tatum is a very natural Mom, while I am a loving but awkward Dad at times. The one thing that warms my heart is when I can tell she recognizes my voice. I know this will change, but I’ve realized my focus needs to be in serving Tatum. Which leads to the next one…

7. I have never had more respect for my wife then in the weeks following Avery’s birth. And since you can never really know how much I had previously respected my extremely gifted and beautiful wife, this statement will never carry as much weight as it is intended to produce. Being induced (which just produces a longer labor), going through labor, and then ending in a C-section is hard enough. But then watching her valiantly learn how to be a mother while not being able to sit up on her own, fighting off an infection with a 101 fever, and enduring the beginning pains of nursing, has made me love her ever more dearly. And praise the Lord in heaven I was born a man.

8. Although it’s a sacrifice, and an extremely daunting responsibility, I’m so proud to be a father. I know my love for Avery will continue to grow, which is exciting. For now, I’ll just enjoy watching her make 37 different faces while sleeping.