Pastor's Blog

Have you ever looked back on your life at the things that made you “you”?  Each of us has things unique to ourselves that define us and provide blessing to offer to others.

I was raised in a tiny town in the country surrounded by first, second, and third cousins (I’ll stop there even though I could go a few numbers further!) who were also my friends and neighbors, my schoolmates and playmates.  We knew not only our neighborhood, but everyone in the town.  You knew who was related to whom, who was married to whom, and who belonged to whom.  If you didn’t, you might find yourself saying something insulting to someone’s first cousin once-removed and you’d be in trouble within a few days!

Everyone knew everyone else’s history – personal and family – their strengths and their sins.  Everyone knew everyone else’s business.  I found that sense of familiarity comfortable because it was “defining” – I knew who I was and I knew who others were.  I knew who we were in relationship to each other and that defined how to relate to others.

I was (and continue to be) comfortable nestling into familiarity.  I’m not adventurous.  I’m not energized by new or different things.  I prefer that things don’t change all that much.  I like knowing and being known.  I don’t feel threatened by transparency and vulnerability.  I never understood those friends who couldn’t wait to “get out of here”, who longed to escape elsewhere to anonymity.

Some people are surprised when I say that I’m an introvert.  I’m a pastor so I’m supposed to be an outgoing people person – talkative and conversant.  In ways I am, though I prefer being with books.  But I’ve learned about myself that when I’m in conversation I am working to get familiar with you because I feel comfortable with familiarity.  I feel comfortable when I know you – when I know good things about you and sad things about you and funny things about you.  I like knowing what you love and what you hate, what pushes all your buttons.  And I like when you know those kinds of things about me too.  I like to know and be known.  Familiarity makes me feel comfortable – because that’s the place in the world in which God chose to mold me.

My dependence upon familiarity has also molded my public speaking.  My worst grade in seminary was in homiletics (preaching class).  After one class my prof called me into his office and told me my public speaking style was too unorthodox, and that I would never succeed as a preaching pastor.  I’m inclined to agree with him.  I don’t know if I could do what a lot of pastors do – change churches every six or seven years.  I’m not just “giving a speech” into the air.  I’m having a conversation with people that I know reasonably well.  Not all visitors to our services receive me in the same positive way – because they don’t know me, and aren’t always quite sure how to take me.

I get very nervous when I speak at an event at which I don’t know many people.  At a wedding rehearsal or before a funeral I like to talk to folks that are there and get a little bit of a feel for who they are, how they are related to those in the wedding or funeral, a little about their background.  I like to understand a few connections because if I know them a little bit, I can talk to them as friends.

Because that’s how the life God laid before me has molded me.

How has He molded you through your life circumstances?

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