Disturbing Stories

Where do we get this sense of entitlement from?
I’ve been collecting (horror) stories about things that happen in churches over in Korea. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m listening with a critical ear, but majority of the stories I hear are negative and I just can’t wrap my head around what is going on over there.
A pastor visits a dentist that is a member of his church, then leaves without paying. When the office called the pastor about settling the bill, the pastor is shocked and offended that he would even be charged because he is the dentist’s pastor.
Or, when a pastor wife needs to go shopping, she calls up parishioners to go with her, because of our culture, the parishioners would feel obligated to pay for the pastor’s wife’s groceries.
Or, purposefully going to parishioner owned restaurants for a free meal.
I met a pastor who dressed like an angel, with the most nicest ties I’ve ever did see in my life. He told me that his ties ranged from $500-$1000.

Now I know these stories bother me more because of the fact that I am Korean. I’m sure it wouldn’t really bug me had this been a different culture. I guess it’s like, you’re more embarrassed of a family member doing something rather than a stranger doing the exact same thing.

And, to boil it down in my mind, it all comes down to the sense of entitlement that exists in all cultures and in all pastors of every culture. Some people really do feel the best way they can serve God is to treat the pastor very nicely and give monetary gifts or purchase meals/groceries or even suits and so forth. Praise be to God for those people. But as a pastor, we shouldn’t expect people to do that for us. And we shouldn’t expect them to keep doing that if they did it once for us.

As a kid, growing up, the best part about birthdays and Christmases were that my dad’s church members gave me cash. Cash! I remember being disappointed when I’d receive a card with no money inside. But I’ve come far beyond that. (Thank God.) And I’m honestly grateful for cards that have words of encouragement and affirmation. And a Starbucks gift card/cash that may be included is always an extra plus bonus that I am not deserving of.  I thank God and the people for their generosity.

But I’m not entitled to that. I shouldn’t expect that. When I start to do so, the people of the church no longer become the people I serve, but they become people that serve me.

We are called to serve, not to be served. Regardless if we are the pastors of a mega-church or leaders of a small group. Our calling is to serve.

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