Yes, I Am A Fake

In my life serving as a pastor, I have faced my fair share of situations that tried me and hurt me. Recently, another hit me. It has been like other times for sure but there was something different and something I think needs to be brought to light. It may help some and for others, they may cringe but here goes…

I was addressed as a “fakea**” pastor. I even have it in writing.

And you know what? This is true.

“The early church fathers and mothers believed that just about the greatest sin a person could express is pride.” Those words of Roberta Bondi struck a chord with me years ago and have never left. My journey with those early followers of Jesus and the others I have been on the journey with these short years on this planet have taught me it does not do anyone any good to pretend to be someone they are not.

So let me be clear: I am a fake. I am not perfect. I am flawed.

Besides the fact I know this when I examine my own life daily, our church just completed my clergy review. I have always faced it with a bit of fear and trembling. You know what? It says very much the same thing. I have flaws So let me ask you my friends, how many of you are also beating down the door to not only have your professional life but spiritual life examined as part of your yearly review for your vocation? I am a tri-vocational pastor these days in order to make ends meet. No matter how hard I try to cover all the bases, I know I can’t do it all. More and more clergy are facing the same struggle. I’ve read the articles and I’ve seen their faces. Most of the clergy in our community and beyond are trying to carry it all. Sometimes we fail.  Maybe not you but it happens.

But in this day of the court of public opinion, people can now say and do whatever they want to attack the character and integrity of good, decent, and imperfect people. 

You read that right.  I don’t speak just for me on this, this person has chosen to slander others: people who give of their time, energy, hearts and efforts to care for others.

You see, we tend to judge others by their behaviors but only judge ourselves by our intentions. There are too many good people, NOT perfect people mind you, GOOD PEOPLE doing their gosh darn best to feed, clothe, visit, and care for others being spoken ill of because they were NOT perfect people. For this, they get deemed to be fake. Really? So you wonder why good people stay out of politics? Soon, you may begin to wonder why good people have disappeared from your community altogether.

If your expectation of a pastor, of a community volunteer or a church, is to be perfect, to be without flaw, to be like Jesus, then remember, the government, the religious leaders, and the crowd, all came together to crucify him.

None of us ever claimed to be perfect. Of course, we are flawed. And I reckon that I know that better than you do. It is why I ask for forgiveness when I learn I’ve offended someone.

I am a sinner. Maybe labeling sinners as “fakes” helps you feel better. It doesn’t matter much. I don’t say it proudly. It isn’t a badge of honor. It is the truth.

In our church, we own it too. Nearly every Sunday of the year, I stand and make the public confession and lead our church in the same. We admit it. And I point to what God makes clear: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

If you buy into such venom in small-town USA or large city USA, good people doing good things get “punished” by opinions which know nothing of the truth of the struggle or the journey that anyone else is on.  Be very careful who you chose to listen to.

So go ahead, tell the world. I know very well who I am and if you’ve understood what the Bible says, you aren’t telling me anything I don’t already know. You aren’t telling anyone something they don’t know. We are all a bunch of fakes. By God's grace, some of us know the truth already.

A Fake Pastor

You Are Not Broken

I was reminded recently of a fable that I have loved for many years.  It is as close to a parable as I have come across.  This time, however, it spoke to my soul and resonated deeply.  Maybe you need to hear it, too.

A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”. The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?” The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful
flowers along the path.” As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

In a recent lecture, the speaker said, "People are not broken.  People are imperfect, but they are not broken."  It occurred to me how we get intellectually lazy and allow others to put frames around you and title you as "broken" or "useless" or "wounded" or whatever.  This is not truth.

Because of poor word choices, some consider the Church and the Bible hold such a view.  And while we are sinners, while we are imperfect, there is a truth you need to hear not expressed enough about how God views you:

"I praise you [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14

Whatever voices have spoken words that tell you differently, you and whatever the flaws you may have, are only flaws in the eyes of others who do not see you as God does.  You are wonderfully made.  You will find your purpose. 

May God Be With You.

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