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.”
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: