Who Has the Right to Weigh In on Our Lives?

God bless Kei and Mako who got married yesterday. Mako was Princess Mako, older sister of the Crown Prince of Japan until she married commoner Kei Komuro. It’s been a brutal process getting married for these two.

In a shame-based culture (and most of our cultures are indeed shame-based) it matters when a royal person marries a not-royal person and in this case, all of Japan apparently weighed in on everything from Mr. Komuro’s appreciation of NYC food trucks and his occasional ponytail.

Most of us don’t have to contend with global commentary, But Pastors and our family members often find ourselves the focus of peculiar interest in Church World. Note: People who spend more time gossiping about their pastors than serving their communities offend Jesus. Stop it.

In my own ministry experience as a pastor I’ve heard the following from parishioners. These are exact quotes:

You might be able to find a husband if you wore tighter clothes. (When I was a single pastor.)

This baby is ours and you live in our house, so we can visit him anytime we want. (When I was a new mom.)

What were you thinking having your children so close together? (After giving birth to three children in four years.)

These comments happen to clergymen as well. My spouse has heard running commentary on his facial hair from parishioners for 30+ years. To be fair, he gets lots of positive comments about his Madras pants.

My point is that the communities with which we serve in the Church sometimes feel that they have permission (or an obligation) to weigh in on the style, hobbies, personalities, child-rearing decisions, and purchasing habits of their leaders. If you are a Church Person, please consider before you share your thoughts whether you would share similar thoughts with your doctor or your child’s teacher.

Fall is sometimes the season when pastors are reviewed and reviewing a pastor can sometimes be conflated with opinions about the way pastors conduct their lives. For example, one of my reviews as a parish pastor stated that I was a good mother, as if that had anything to do with my role as a pastor. (Imagine HR sharing in personnel reviews for a banker or a college professor that an employee was a good parent.)

Appropriate comments for a pastor’s review might be: approachable, excellent teacher, effective communicator, strong conflict resolution skills.

Not so appropriate comments for a pastor’s review might be: needs a haircut, not good with babies, aloof.

Part of being an authentic faith community includes loving each other and helping each other be the people God created us to be. It’s not about hair styles and jewelry (“Not too much, Pastors!“) as much as it’s about leadership and spiritual gifts and even loving our enemies.

Who gets to weigh in on our lives? Good boundaries answer that question. And lovingkindness.

Image of former Princess Mako and her husband Kei Komuro who were married on October 26, 2021 in Tokyo.

2 responses to “Who Has the Right to Weigh In on Our Lives?

  1. My personal favorite (but there are lots of these). My husband was the pastor of a small-ish congregation when I became pregnant with our third child. A member of the congregation called the presbytery to complain that it was wrong of us to have another child because the congregation would have to pay for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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