Attention Clergy: I Can’t Be Everybody’s Pastor . . .

. . . and neither can you.Becoming Nicole

I just finished Becoming Nicole – which is an excellent story and resource about a transgender child and her family.   As I read it, I remembered that there are certain people in this world whom I cannot serve as pastor. A character in the book  – who is a brother in Christ, by the way  – wrote these words on his organization’s website, as quoted by author Amy Ellis Nutt:

Ten year old boys should not even be thinking about whether they are a boy or a girl.  This entire issue is totally absurd.  If the medical profession can’t figure this out then the medical profession needs it’s head examined . . . I promise you this, the (Christian Civic) League is a friend to common sense . . . Like John the Baptist everyday we come to work and speak truth to power.  Some choose to repent and change course while others (King Herod) take another path. 

Well, there you have it.

I think this man’s editorial is 1) ignorant and 2) hateful.

Imagine this person being in your congregation.  It happens.  Sometimes there are people in our spiritual community who make us a little crazy, to the point that we can’t/don’t want to talk with them much less be the church with them.

There was such a person in a congregation I once served.   I prayed that I would see her as Jesus sees her.  I prayed that our hardened hearts would melt a bit.  I talked with spiritual mentors about how to serve her better. I tried to connect over lemon bars.

But it wasn’t happening.  Frankly, she was mean.  She was mean to me.  She was mean to her closest friends behind their backs.  She clearly didn’t consider me to be her spiritual leader no matter how hard I tried.

It finally occurred to me that it was okay that I couldn’t be her pastor.  I can’t be everyone’s pastor.

Sometimes the best we can do is hope that somebody can be her pastor.   For example, I recently spent time with another (mean) person who was giving his pastor a difficult time. He was obstinate, self-centered, crotchety, and ridiculous – sort of like me sometimes.  I asked to hear his story and he mentioned a small town in N.C. – which of course made me smile.  That was our connection.  He knew that I disagreed with him, but – for a moment – I could be his pastor when his real pastor could not.

This is what God does.

Now back to Amy Ellis Nutt’s book.  Please read it and share it.  My deep hope is that someone will be the right pastor for people who fear or do not understand transgender folks and that someone will be the right pastor for the transgender kid out there who feels alone.  Now, go buy the book.

One response to “Attention Clergy: I Can’t Be Everybody’s Pastor . . .

  1. Love your blog posts! Right on, always!
    This one reminds me of this quote: “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” True for oppression of others as well as myself. It’s a question I have had about being an inclusive church: How can we be inclusive of persons who understand the Christian message to be about excluding others?


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