Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Preaching, Surfing, and Organized Crime
When I see leaders on stage I immediately esteem them. Not everybody does that, but I do. Always have. The way I see it, if pew passengers want you to tell them how to live differently, then you obviously have your junk together. At least most of it.
Maybe that's why I aspired to be one of those guys. My problem is that I'm not that good at life. I get overwhelmed by everything. Ask me to do laundry while I'm already washing dishes and you'll blow my motherboard. Real life for me is sort of... real.
But the guys on stage look so perfect. Bright lights shimmer off their wrinkle-free clothing; subtle symbolism for their wrinkle-free lives. They've never lost their cool. Always react to emotionally charged situations like professionals. They remind me that I too can aspire to a sparkly, wrinkle-free life.
Actually, they never said that. They told me about trials and character. I simply misunderstood because of how easy they made it look. Like those darn surfers. How do they glide on a tsunami like it's a moving walkway? Life never looks difficult for preachers and surfers. They seem to sail along, just in front of the waves. Nothing unmanageable enough to wrinkle pants or cause a splash.
But I wonder about unintended consequences. Like how Prohibition was supposed to suppress the alcohol trade, but essentially funded organized crime. Can that effect happen in church? I wonder if an unintended consequence of polished leadership is hypocrisy/legalism. It's easy to mistake a well-spoken man with ideals for a spiritual specimen. Why not presume he lives life in perfect adherence to his principles? It's easy to imagine him smiling through a house fire. He's perfect.
We rarely see an example of sincere imperfection on public display. But if you're near enough to the leaders, it's often beautiful. In my experience the closer I've gotten to the men on stage the more I've seen their authenticity. It's great to hear them belch after dinner. It's relieving to witness an occasional bad attitude. And it's inspiring to see real character in action.
But guess what I'm learning? They're not going to light farts on stage. They're not going to stub their toe and let a cuss word slip. And they definitely aren't going to stay up till 3am on Saturday night watching Lethal Weapon reruns. They're speaking the next day, for goodness sake!
Maybe that's how it's supposed to be. We want people worth following. We don't need them to expose their issues. Then we couldn't see past their carnality to let them help us with ours. It sucks when a pastor tries to connect with people by painting himself as a jerk. We lose respect for him. Even Jesus didn't let it all hang out. He had different levels of disclosure. John got his breast. The twelve got the rest. And the crowds got blessed. I'm cool with that.
So would Jesus have a problem with my blog? I wonder if He'd think my disclosure could hurt others. Or be concerned that people won't respect me years from now. He didn't bare his soul for the multitudes, why should I? People could easily judge me, and some probably already have. They could decide that because I was a wounded goofball in 2010 that I'm not to be trusted in 2012, or... ever.
Multitudes are finicky I guess. Just look at what happened with LeBron James. With one act of immaturity (publicly leaving his team), he went from being the most lovable NBA star to the most hate-able. And you better believe that 20 years from now people will still be talking bitterly about 'The Decision'. Isn't that crazy? Lifelong bitterness towards a kid for being insensitive? Mark my words, it will happen. Crowds cannot be trusted.