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)


Anonymous said...

Nice Eric. I don't think I'll call you handsome... just a judgment call.

Welcome to the official pastoral journey. Don't worry, it never gets weird.

Hi to Tatum & Avery,

Tim Rogers

ddhoffman said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this Eric. My friend Joe sent me this post as I try to figure out what to do regarding seminary.

markr said...

I will continue to send you electronic correspondence separately to friend Eric and pastor Eric so you will not get confused.