So I'm coming to recognize that I am not a traditional pastor . . . you know the one that people have in their mind of what a pastor is supposed to look like, supposed to sound like, supposed to act like. Well, I'm not that pastor. I wear funky, stylish outfits . . . sexy even. I tell funny jokes . . . use slang sometimes even. I bowl, dance, go to the movies (even the R-rated ones), listen to R&B, read books other than those centered on theological topics or talk about Jesus . . . play pool even.
So, you might say I'm slightly off center of those visions -- at least trying to be. For the most part, I'd like to think I live outside of some of these wild, crazy notions and expectations that we have about ministers -- like the one I heard from a fellow preaching sister who said that someone was shocked that she actually went to the movies.
Really? God forbid we see our preachers or pastors going to the movies! Some would have proclaimed us Hell-bound a long time ago . . . oops! I said the word, "Hell".
So of course it probably isn't appropriate that I like to shoot a game of pool every now and then or sing karaoke or listen to Rick James and Teena Marie sing "Fire and Desire" (which I just heard minutes ago). I started thinking about these notions we have our of spiritual leaders after wresting with myself over whether I should have even posted this picture of me in all of my beauty with a pool stick in hand. I started thinking about what people would say and how they would wonder, "Is she really a minister?" or mumble "She isn't like any preacher, I know!"
I got even more nervous when someone referred to the pose as "Hot"! (By the way, can a minister be "Hot"?Of course not, especially if she's a female. What was I thinking?).
Actually, the question is "Where did this thinking come from? Since when did I cease to be less holy, less spiritual and less than capable of carrying out my duties as a minister? Since when did I cease to become less than human? None of these aspects of who I am are lessened by the fact that I hold a pool stick in my hand, sing karaoke and simply have fun. A friend of mine quoted that she and I and some other women she knows in ministry, "walk by the beat of their own drum".
And that's what I'm doing . . . strutting in my peeptoe pumps and high heel slingback sandels with my funky, eyecatching toe pedicure design in only the way that I can . . . in a way that I believe is not offensive to Jesus . . . in a way that I believe liberates me and others from this bondage we have been held in and hold other people in . . . in a way that I believes helps me proudly proclaim that a decision to follow Jesus is a decision to live in freedom from the world's social constructs. There are still many things or aspects of my personality in my BC (Before Jesus) days that I can hold onto now that I'm a member of Team Jesus!
It's crazy how we fall into these realms of thought . . . most due to years and years of being programmed to think this way. It happens almost unconsciously and only when we begin to speak some of the thoughts aloud or find ourselves in conversation with others do we ask, "Where did that rule come from?" or "Who said that?" do we begin to realize how asinine some of these streams of consciousness really are. Clearly I've been a victim too. I started believing the criticisms and living in a way that prohibited my authentic self from shining through, but quickly realized just because I'm pastoral, doesn't mean that I'm not sexy, pretty or as a friend said, "hot". God made all of me and I encompass those qualities. This is who I am and I must embrace it. We have to begin to redefine how we come to think about ministers, remembering that they are human too. This, however, does not give us a free pass to live recklessly and "on our own terms" in a way that "causes our brothers to stumble" or turn away from God.
The truth is that while I am a preacher, proclaimer of the Word of God or however you want to define it, I am not perfect. I will fail. . . I will make mistakes . . . and like my friends and family and future congregants, will find myself struggling and wresting, while working and striving to become better each day!
And as I journey into each of these coming days, I will take all of what makes me ME, with me . . . my beauty, my fashion sense, playful nature and all!
With that said, I think I'm ready for a game of Spades now!