One of the things about being a pastor is trying to strike up conversations with people who have varying degrees of expectations of what a pastor is/does. Some people desire that the pastor know a lot about their lives while others have the pastor on a need to know basis. I am still learning to be comfortable with who I am and as such I tend to over-function and want to try to meet others expectations of me rather than focus on what I am called to do/be.
This over-functioning in order to try to meet the expectations of others leads to the diagnoses of “foot in mouth” disease. Perhaps you have this diagnosis as well? Let me share a few of my more memorable afflictions:
- I asked a seminar leader for specific advice before the conference began. When the conference began the first rule that was shared was not to bother the leader with specific advice. The leader looked right at me when the rule was shared.
- I asked if someone got some sun over the weekend, only to be told that the redness is a skin condition.
- I stood on the General Conference floor (the governing body of the entire UMC) and asked a three minute question in order to clarify where we were in the proceedings in the hopes of moving the body forward only to be told after the explanation that all I had to do was say, “I call the question.”
- I said the wrong last name at a wedding.
- I gave looked Joe in the eyes for a year as I said, “The body of Christ broken for you Joe.” Only to be told when he moved that his name is not Joe.
- I welcomed a family to worship and asked their son if he liked superman. The parents shared with me that their nine year old was their daughter.
- I asked a member of AA if they ever wanted to get a drink with me to talk about their life I would open to that.
Perhaps you have your own situations. I share these in order to remind us you that we all mess up in social situations. I have foot in mouth. Sometimes I mess up so bad people leave the church or I just embarrass myself or make it awkward. I wait patiently for a cure for Foot in Mouth, but until then I trust in the Grace of God and God’s people when I step in it.