Once a week I go to a trainer at the gym and she is great. You should meet her. She is funny and easy to work with. She tells me stories and gives me a good feeling every time I leave the gym. Most of my week is spent dealing with heavy things and the last thing that I want to do on my day off is to lift do any more heavy lifting. I was looking for a trainer for a long time, but most of them made me uncomfortable with the amount of work they were asking me to do. Which is why my trainer is great because she gives me what I really want donuts and beer.
Of course this is fictional. No one wants to attend a gym that employs trainers that will give you donuts and beer. We go to gyms to work out our bodies and stretch beyond what we think we are able to do in order to be fit for whatever may happen in our lives.
In my years of ministry I have met a good number of people who want a pastor to be the equivalent to the donut dispensing trainer. Some of us are looking for a pastor that will tell us good stories, to make us feel good, to get a good laugh and walk out in the same shape as we walked in with but with a smile.
It has been said that the prophets are those who comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. But I can tell you that many pastors feel like we are not able to follow this calling out of fear. There is a fear among many of us clergy to do the work of afflicting the comfortable because we fear loosing out jobs. At times, clergy have been known to gripe about the church for being too complacent or too petty. However these conversations distract us clergy from the hard truth that many of us do not want to face: we are the trainers passing out donuts and beer.
This season of Lent, I am going to spend a decent amount of time considering how it is that I have become a donuts and beer pastor.