What Does a Pastor Look Like?

I had heard about this sort of thing happening to other youth pastors, but it had never happened to me… until yesterday.

A guy came into the church office and asked to meet with a pastor. He needed some counseling, and he didn’t know where else to go. He was probably in his 50’s, well dressed, and visibly shaken from whatever was on his mind. I was the pastor that they called to come and talk to him. Usually our Mercy Pastor gets the call, but he was unavailable.

As soon as I turn the corner he looks at me little bit funny. He literally looks me up and down, reluctantly shakes my hand, and then follows me into our conference room.

Guy: “What do you do here?”

Me: “I oversee our Student Ministries Department.”

Guy: Sigh

Me: (Trying to ignore the sigh) “So, what’s going on? I can see that you’re pretty shaken up by something.”

Guy: “Is the Lead Pastor around?”

Me: “I don’t think so, but I can check for you.”

I go look for Mark Connelly (who looks like a surfer more than a pastor). I find our Executive Pastor of Spiritual Development Paul Fischbach (he has a goatee and a bald head so he definitely looks like a pastor). Paul’s busy so he can’t talk to him. I go back in with him…

Me: “I couldn’t find our Lead Pastor, but I’d be happy to talk with you. (Long pause) I’ve been in ministry for about a decade now.”

Guy: (Spends about ten seconds trying to figure out what to say to me, and then…) “I’m sorry… I just can’t… thank you for your time.”

This story is part funny, but part sad too. Funny that I got completely judged by my age and appearance, sad because this guy left our church hurting when he didn’t have to.

The funny part is that THIS IS OUR LEAD PASTOR. He looks like he’s on his way to his Senior Prom.

Do I need to look more like beefcake up above?

Or maybe this guy:

16 thoughts on “What Does a Pastor Look Like?”

  1. you should have told him that you’re one of the Teaching Pastor’s at the church. 🙂 just sayin’. Youth Ministry and dapper 50 year old men don’t mix. use your mainstage card

  2. Lindsay, that’s inappropriate.

    Brian, I definitely should have been like, “Oh well you MUST recognize me… I’m the guy that preaches once a month, yeah, that’s me, Captain Awesome, that’s what they call me, now lets talk about how I’m gonna save you from whatever situation you’re in because I’m awesome and I’ve been through more than you and I’ve experienced more victory and freedom than you and I’m way more humble than you, and I hate ending sentences”. Or something like that. And I’m not really a “teaching pastor”. I’m more of a “pastor that teaches”. Kinda like the Dwight Schrute conundrum.

  3. I feel your pain. Definitely have had multiple parents mistake me for one of the junior high students before. Had to explain that “junior high pastor” doesn’t mean “pastor who is also in junior high.”

  4. Joel, we recently did a sermon at Mission that was considered PG-13, and my wife got stopped by one of our ushers (who apparently didn’t know she was MY WIFE) and asked how old she is. She feels your pain buddy.

  5. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” 1Timothy 4:12-13…
    Ryan, your life and your ministry are a mirror to this verse. You and Lindsay have set a Godly example for the believers, of any age. From what I see your speech your life, in the love you show with Lindsay and to all you minister to, and the purity you have allowed God to infuse in your life all of this is a shining example.
    I, being much older than you and have taught and lead at church for over half your life time, have even some years of bible college…. I find your teachings mature in knowledge, that challenge me to a deeper relationship with Christ. Our youth Ministries are blessed to have you and Lindsay.
    The man that was hurting needs us to pray, pray he returns, or finds some other church. Pray he allow the spirit that lead him there in the first place to continue to speak to him, pray that God would prevail… the worlds misconception of what a pastor should look like and how old they should be in order to have maturity is hindered.
    Be encouraged, God is up to something big at Mission, He is drawing His people to Himself through the use of our Pastoral staff, and the people that attend; the people are growing in relationship, both with Christ and each other, they are learning the Word they are living the Word! And you are a very huge part of what God is doing! I am very blessed to be in HS ministry and I know my children are too!

  6. well you only described one guy who actually “looks” like a pastor so, just grow a goatee and shave your head… 🙂

  7. My encouragement = wallow in it. Counseling is like jury duty. You have a free pass to get out of it.
    Here’s the line I’d use…”I’d like to help you but I’m only the same age as Jesus when he died for your sins. You probably need to talk to the guy closer in age to the pharisees.”

  8. Mary, your comment made my day. Thank you!

    Paul, if I shaved my head we would see a spike in attendance for sure. People love carnivals.

    Mark, Jesus was 33 when he died for our sins, not 31. But all the facts aside, your comment made me laugh for about a minute just now.

  9. I’m confused Ryan on two things.
    1. Are you upset because you didn’t get to deal with someones problem because you looked to young and handsome?

    2. Lindsay isn’t a teenager? That makes me so much happier i was under the impression you married a child bride and everyone was ok with that at 6:8 I’m kinda happy to hear that.

    Anyway man on a serious note you should start wearing traditional priest garb, perhaps that will make you more accessible to the 50+ crowd

  10. Duncan,
    You’re a funny fella.
    I could never wear the priestly garb… I already sweat like TD Jakes when I’m teaching.

  11. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” 1Timothy 4:12-13…Ryan, your life and your ministry are a mirror to this verse. You and Lindsay have set a Godly example for the believers, of any age. From what I see your speech your life, in the love you show with Lindsay and to all you minister to, and the purity you have allowed God to infuse in your life all of this is a shining example.I, being much older than you and have taught and lead at church for over half your life time, have even some years of bible college…. I find your teachings mature in knowledge, that challenge me to a deeper relationship with Christ. Our youth Ministries are blessed to have you and Lindsay.The man that was hurting needs us to pray, pray he returns, or finds some other church. Pray he allow the spirit that lead him there in the first place to continue to speak to him, pray that God would prevail… the worlds misconception of what a pastor should look like and how old they should be in order to have maturity is hindered.Be encouraged, God is up to something big at Mission, He is drawing His people to Himself through the use of our Pastoral staff, and the people that attend; the people are growing in relationship, both with Christ and each other, they are learning the Word they are living the Word! And you are a very huge part of what God is doing! I am very blessed to be in HS ministry and I know my children are too!
    +1

  12. I remember that happening to me when I was a youth Pastor. Now that I am fifty, I wouldn’t mind it happening again.

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