(whoops. link is not working properly, you should start the clip at 4:50, or just click here)
(btw, the clip is from Scrubs, one of my favorite shows ever, and the clip describes the heart of how I feel. Sort of.)
The first place I should begin is to thank everyone for getting upset on my behalf.
I sort of started feeling really bad when the majority of people’s responses and comments from this post and story were of horror, anger, disbelief and so forth.
You have to understand, I really thought this was hilarious. And because I thought it was funny, I wanted to share it with people. But, most of the people didn’t find it as humorous, and I sort of regretted sharing it because I didn’t share to fish for compliments or anything like that.
A few were a bit surprised of how unbothered I was over all this.
You see, both my wife and I grew up as pastor’s kids in Korean churches. We both saw our dads go through needless amount of crap. (And after all that, I’m a pastor. Only by God’s grace.)
My dad was punched in the face by a church member during a meeting because my dad refused to let someone buy their way into church leadership.
Once, my mother was so shocked about the church’s behavior and words that she collapsed during a meeting.
A parishioner threatened my father in-law’s life.
These are just a few stories…
So, we know how church people can be at their worst.
But we also know how they can be at their best.
But really, the reason why this didn’t bother me at all was because, simply, I did nothing wrong.
If I were at fault, I would’ve felt remorseful and apologized, if I could. Once, a church member sent an angry email about how potty humor shouldn’t be part of a Sunday sermon.
(Real quick: Basically, the children sermon was about ‘you are what you eat.’ I talked about my friend who went crazy when McDonalds did a promotion for 25 cents a chicken Mcnugget. We were poor seminarians. Cheap food was a blessing! He ate so, so, so much nuggets that one day, when he peed, his pee smelled like Chicken McNuggets. So the moral was, whatever we keep putting into our minds/hearts, we’ll start becoming that. If all we do is watch violent movies and play violent games, we’re going to become a bit violent, etc. Potty humor at its best.)
I apologized, because though at the time of preparation I thought nothing of it, I understood where this church member was coming from. So, apologizing was the right and good thing to do.
As for this card, he was essentially telling me, he didn’t like me. My sermon delivery style is infused to who I am as a person. That’s cool, too. I know that people won’t like me. My job isn’t to have people like me. It’s a nice bonus in ministry when people like the pastor.
But no one liked Jeremiah, and he’s still one of my favorite prophets. Many people, especially the powers-to-be, hated Jesus.
I grew up where kids (and people) made fun of me because of my race. They made fun of me because of who and what I was, something I had no control over. I grew up facing all sorts of racism. This middle-aged guy once approached a teenage me at a mall and said, “Hey, I always wanted to know, do you guys see okay?” It took me a whole minute to realize he was referring to the size of my eyes. But by then, he and his young daughter were long gone. Kids teased me because I was so short. Then they teased me because I grew so tall. (This kid bullied me when I was short, then started bullying me when I got taller. He came up to me one day, and asked “How’s the weather up there?” for the umpteenth time and laughed his little laugh. Being tired of hearing this stupid question over and over, and now much bigger than him, I spat on him and said, “It’s raining.” He never bothered me again… And yes, I was a bratty, mean, jerk of a kid too. I’m not completely innocent.)
Anyway, I realized long ago, I can’t control what people think of me. If they don’t like who I am or what I am, there’s nothing I can do. And most of the time, it’s not worth trying to earn their love. I hope to gain their respect, but I’m not going to go out of my way to win their approval. After all, my focus as a pastor is to please and serve God, not women and men.
But there are people who love who and what I am. That’s more than enough for me.
Anyway, thanks so much for your support. I didn’t mean to rile you or upset you on my behalf. But I am grateful that everyone shared their dismay with me.
I still think it’s funny, though. The card is going to be in the same box where I keep all the cards and letters of love and affirmation. Not because of the card’s content, but because of the response that came from others. When I look at that card years from now, my first reaction will still be to laugh, but now I’ll also remember the kind words people shared with me after hearing about the card.
And let’s be real. This wasn’t my first letter of disapproval (although the first on a Christmas card) and it’s definitely not going to be my last. I’m going to piss people off and disappoint people on this journey of faith. Some letters will be as funny as this card, others will cut me deeper than any knife or razor can.
But with the love and support that I have of people who care for me, and knowing, for reasons only God knows and understands alone, God has unwavering faith in me (me!), it’s enough to keep me chasing God’s vision and dream for my life.