Throwing stones at Pastors…REALLY???

down town atlanta 2

By Kenneth Justice

In many ways it’s a thankless job; you do what you’re supposed to and everyone simply takes it for granted. But if you make one mistake, or if you don’t say something perfectly then people give you hell for it” she said

~ That was one comment among many that the wife of a pastor shared with me over coffee. She died three years ago at the age of 81 following a stroke and a long-arduous battle with the aftereffects of the stroke and her semi-paralyzed condition. For nearly 40 years her husband pastored two small country churches and she labored beside him fulfilling the various roles required of her as ‘the Pastor’s Wife’.

Over the years I had coffee with the two of them so many times I lost count and the experience was very eye-opening for me into the private life of a minister….and most importantly the conversations solidified my resolve of never wanting to be in church leadership.

Christians can treat pastors and church leaders with a lot of cruelty.

I suppose it’s like other jobs that put you front and center in the public eye; presidents, governors, being the owner of a company, etc. Whenever you’re in a position where you are visible to a lot of people you’re going to end up receiving a lot of varied responses and attitudes from people. Just look at the President of the United States or Prime Minister of a country; whoever the current leader is, they have to deal with hate mail, people mocking them, comedians making fun of him/her, and endless complaint letters and emails from the populace.

Sure, Pastors, Priests, and Leaders of Countries eventually mess up; they make mistakes and at times they might really stumble and actually lie……..but let’s face it; nobody is perfect. We are all human and can never live up to the unrealistic standard that people expect of us.

Perhaps that is why I’ve written endlessly about parents who place heavy burdens and unrealistic expectations upon their children; we have to allow our children (and our pastors & presidents) to make mistakes; because it’s the way we learn.

Christians can treat pastors and church leaders with a lot of cruelty

The reason I believe Christians can be especially cruel toward their pastors and priests is because for the average Christian; one of the number one issues they struggle with in life is self-righteousness. Many of the great Christian philosopher’s, people like C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer all made the same observation; within Christianity there is a propensity for the ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Perhaps it has something to do with so many Christians believing that their particular denomination or their particular dogmas are the ‘right ones’ and everyone else’s are the ‘wrong ones’.

For the past year a week hasn’t gone by in my life where I haven’t received at least half a dozen or more rather vicious emails or comments from ‘Christians’. I’m not even a pastor or minister, yet Christians seem to get some kind of sick enjoyment from typing unkind things to me,

—-) “Kenneth, you aren’t saved and you need to find Jesus

—-) “Kenneth, the problem with you views is that they aren’t guided by the Holy Spirit

—-) “Kenneth, you’re nothing more than an arrogant person who won’t listen to reason

And that is a mere sampling of the ‘nicer’ comments I get from supposed ‘Christians’. I couldn’t imagine having to be a pastor or priest; and being in the position where my paycheck depends on appeasing all of these parishioners who at times appear to be ticking-time-bombs waiting for the wrong word to come out of your mouth and then <BAM> they explode in a fiery tirade.

I can easily <click> delete and not respond to the nasty emails or simply scroll down and ignore the unkind comments from Christians. But if you’re a pastor or priest; you can’t ignore the parishioner who is raising a ruckus or causing dissension among the community.

Christians can treat pastors and church leaders with a lot of cruelty

I also suspect that another problem which may plague Christian laity is that they fall into the trap of worshiping their leaders. After all, for Christians it comes natural to ‘worship’ since that is what they do week-after-week on each Sunday when they attend the service or mass…..and so maybe too many Christians end up worshipping the men and women in leadership; and when the laity find out that those leaders they have been worshiping are imperfect (because we are all imperfect) it can send them spiraling into a gust of nastiness.

While not all of my readers (and fellow bloggers) are Christians, I know from the emails and comments I receive that a fair percentage of them are; and so last December when I made the decision to go on my Drinking in the Culture Tour and visit 100 coffee houses throughout the Western World I realized I was opening myself up in a more personal way to those people who don’t like me.

—-) If I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Atlanta with a Christian who is railing against my faith I can’t simply <click> delete or mute

—-) When I’m hanging out in St. Louis or Philadelphia and Christians show up who want to try and bait me or argue with me….I can’t simple scroll down to read comments from the next person

On December 31st there was a lot of trepidation on my part as I realized I was less than 24 hours away from publicly posting my article which would cement the announcement and my commitment to visiting with readers throughout the United States, Europe and Canada……and for one small moment I almost reconsidered the journey.

Christians can treat pastors and church leaders with a lot of cruelty

I’m neither a pastor nor a Christian leader at the local church. Yet still I receive hundreds and thousands of messages and emails from ‘Christian’ men and women who say some very unkind things. It was last summer as the rate of nasty emails increased that I was receiving when I realized I needed to make the conscious effort to preserve the anonymity of my children; I didn’t want them to have to deal with any potential backlash from readers.

Of course, the majority of the messages, comments and emails I receive are genuinely nice; and I am so appreciative…….but some weeks, sifting through a batch of nasty ones can cause me to forget the nice ones.

All this is to say that while I am still so excited to be arriving in places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and other locations in the coming weeks…..I do so with the reality before me that I simply can’t be ‘all things to all people’. I can try……but I will ultimately fail miserably because I am no more perfect than the next person.

And to the person who emailed me this past week telling me that I am an “awful Christian and need to shut up”, well thanks for sharing your thoughts…..but for now I think I’m going to keep on writing.

I really need another cup of coffee right now,

Kenneth

Check out my homepage for dates and locations of my coffee-house stop along my trip; I’d love to have coffee with you!

 



Categories: Religion

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125 replies

  1. I think the problem, is that a lot of Christians can be cruel to everyone, including pastors.
    Also, there is a high level of abuse by ministers too, so it works both ways.
    My issue with Christianity, is the levels of hypocrisy and abuse throughout, and yet there is little done about it.
    There’s a lot of narcissism, within Christianity, and that is ignored too.
    And I don’t think you are a bad Christian at all.
    But, if like me you don’t fit the ‘sheep like’ or ‘cookie cutter Christian’ expectation, and you actually question things, I know by experience, it does not go down with many who profess to be Christians.

    • “is that a lot of christens can be cruel to everyone, including pastors”

      Right on. I was sitting at a coffee shop yesterday where a group of guys come every Monday morning to do their ‘bible study’. I appreciate their devotion to showing up every week and whatnot; but I saw someone ask them if they could borrow a chair from the table that nobody was using and the guys said, “no”, we’re saving it in case someone from the coffee shop here wants to sit down with us and study the bible……

      I was thinking, “REALLY????” that was like the worst thing to do to try and get people to sit with them! LOL

    • Wow. Your right. I’m a pastor. I would know. But on the other side of the coin there are a lot of Christians who are excellent people…we all are people and we all fail but some more than others. Love your article. I’m trying to think of something mean and nasty but it’s to much effort to be that way! We have such a higher capacity for pain then joy. When has someone “suffered with joy” for years after a great event? Never. But how many suffer with “pain” for years after a terrible event? Lots. Me. Hmm…well it goes to show you….maybe the theology is right…Adam and Eve brought something evil into this world and now we live with it day to day. The only cure I know is meditation on what Jesus said in Scripture. It works for me. I’ll be reading more from you! You make me think…..thanks.

    • “But on the other side of the coin there are a lot of Christians who are excellent people…”

      Mark, well, I’m a Christian, and I wouldn’t say I’m ‘excellent’ but I appreciate what your getting at 😉

      Hopefully readers understood that I wasn’t implying that ‘all’ Christians are cruel towards their pastors and others…. but that I was making the point that some/many are…. and that we all have the potentiality of being cruel, because none of us are perfect.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • I understand that you were not meaning “all” ! Just with me, I see (from my view in the pulpit) perhaps most…are not really trying to be authentic Christ followers….if they were it would be different. And yes, “excellent” was hyperbole……..

  2. As someone who isn’t Christian, although with many friends who are, I am shocked to hear how nasty and cruel they can be. Who is so perfect that they can cast judgement on others? (Although I guess I can be judgemental of people, but only ever in my head! And it’s usually caused by my own insecurities). This is why I’m happy to live Christian values but could never join a church. If there is a god, he can’t appreciate all this hate, surely?

    • Weld said Amanda,

      Self-righteous and the nastiness of Christians is what tends to turn people off to Christianity altogether. And I totally understand why there are people who would never want to join a church.

  3. Ah…the self-righteous gene in us all is strong. It expresses in stark ways in the ‘church’ part of society. Church extents to other groups, as well. We belonged to a well-known blog group a year ago. It had nothing to do with religion. Still, someone got their shorts in a self-righteous knot and arranged our removal.

    The problem runs deep everywhere.

    • “The problem runs deep everywhere”

      Jim, it really does I agree. Its SO annoying because I’m the kind of person that feels like we should just be whoever we are, with no masks, but the self-righteous out there are looking for a little window of opportunity to go on the attack…… and its annoying as hell.

    • Our mis-directed time and efforts could be used to do so much positive and good.

      Thank you for your efforts. I appreciate them.

  4. Hi Kenneth,

    Yes, this is a reality, so you might as well get used to it. Any time you become a leader in anything, you paint a target on your back. But if you become a leader in religion and spirituality, that target becomes magnified. You are dealing with an area that is close to people’s hearts, and that goes beyond mere money and power.

    The target painted on pastors and religious leaders is not entirely unjust and useless. Religious leaders are in positions of great power over people’s minds and souls. Those who abuse that power cause far greater damage than people who merely have power over others’ money, possessions, and physical bodies. There must be a societal mechanism to remove religious leaders who abuse their power. Unfortunately, some religious leaders who aren’t bad apples, but merely make a serious mistake, do get caught in the crossfire.

    The other side of the coin is that challenge and opposition builds strength. Untested convictions are weak. They easily fall away in the face of adversity. But convictions tested by the fire of opposition and attack are molded, modified, purified, and strengthened by that very conflict and opposition. Any parts of those convictions that are weak or unreliable will have to be let go, or you yourself will go down. What remains will be what is strongly and deeply held, and what is worthy and reliable as a guide to life.

    Further, the knowledge that any serious mistake could mean one’s social and professional death has a marvelous ability to focus the mind. Pastors and other religious leaders who get sloppy and careless, and who don’t impose discipline on their own attitudes and actions, don’t last long. Many who are brought down by their followers just didn’t have what it takes to be in that position. And those who remain must be on a continual path of self-examination and self-correction. That is not a bad thing.

    Yes, sometimes life is unfair to those who place themselves in positions of religious or spiritual leadership. But it comes with the territory. As the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Though none of us is truly worthy, and all of us are flawed vessels, if we wish to accomplish great things, we must be willing to wade into the maelstrom and tough it out. Life weeds out those whose convictions are not up to their goals.

    Think of those who attack you and oppose you as your friendly neighborhood life exam committee. They are testing you to see if you have what it takes to pursue the goals of leadership that you have set for yourself, to try your beliefs and convictions in the crucible of conflict, and to refine your soul so that any dross in your character and beliefs falls away, while only the pure gold remains.

    • The target painted on pastors and religious leaders is not entirely unjust and useless. Religious leaders are in positions of great power over people’s minds and souls. Those who abuse that power cause far greater damage than people who merely have power over others’ money, possessions, and physical bodies. There must be a societal mechanism to remove religious leaders who abuse their power. Unfortunately, some religious leaders who aren’t bad apples, but merely make a serious mistake, do get caught in the crossfire.”

      100% agree with ya Lee

      Think of those who attack you and oppose you as your friendly neighborhood life exam committee. They are testing you to see if you have what it takes to pursue the goals of leadership that you have set for yourself, to try your beliefs and convictions in the crucible of conflict, and to refine your soul so that any dross in your character and beliefs falls away, while only the pure gold remains

      Ha ha its easier to say that than to actually experience it I suspect. One of my problems is that I’m a generally ‘open’ person. I kinda have the tendency to ‘say it like I see it’…. and there are a lot of people that can’t really handle openness; they would prefer that we all ‘play pretend’ I guess. And this is especially so with my fellow Christians; many of them can’t handle open-and-honest conversations because those kind of conversations tend to open their own eyes to their insecurities, failings, etc……. and so its easier for them to go on the attack then to just have a civil conversation.

    • Yes, easier said than done. I also tend to say exactly what I think. 😛 I have a hard time saying something I don’t believe or feel just for the sake of social nicety. Usually about the best I can do is keep my mouth shut rather than blurting out an uncomfortable truth that’s going to do more harm than good in that particular situation.

      One thing that is often helpful, though, is to keep the focus on them rather than on you. Don’t even bother defending your position, because it won’t work. It will just cause the battle lines to be drawn even more strongly. Pretty soon they’ll pull out the tactical nukes.

      Instead, ask them questions about their views. Find out exactly what they believe, and why. Get them to explain themselves. Sometimes they’ll get so busy basking in the attention you’re giving to them and their beliefs that they’ll forget all about attacking you. 😉 Meanwhile, you’re learning things about them that might be helpful if this isn’t a conversation and relationship that you can quickly and easily get out of. Plus they’ll go away thinking you’ve listened to them and heard them (which you actually have), while you can continue to believe what you believe.

      Doesn’t always work. But sometimes worth a try in these situations.

    • I agree with this comment totally. All paid employees expect to be reprimanded if they screw up. That’s normal. You just accept it with the best grace you can muster and try to learn and not do it again.
      Pastors have a tendency to put themselves above that process, which they shouldn’t. Most of them get carried away with their own sense of self importance. I’ve met very very few who can reach to criticism with anything other than injured self pity.

  5. Well, Kenneth, those nasty Christians at least have to admire your courage in writing this blog – surely.

    I do.

    • Vicki,

      I’m glad you do!! I just wish everyone was as laid back as yourself Vicki 🙂

    • I have strong ideas on lots of subjects, Kenneth, but I like to keep an open mind and try to respect other opinions too.

      Sometimes I word comments badly, but it’s more out of fatigue and misunderstanding (than deliberate malicious intent).

  6. Just keep on keeping on Kenneth, and as I always say ” Don’t Feed the Trolls” they hide under bridges for a reason… They can’t stand in the sun for long because their true identity would be revealed and they would have to stand behind the hate they spread. hope you have more safe travels… jolynn

    • Jolynn, that is what my dad said all the time, “keep on keeping on”….I swear, he must have said that ten thousand times up till he died. Thank you!

    • glad i made you smile today..

    • Pardon the pesky observation, Jolynn, but the term “troll” as it came to be used on the Internet refers to the fishing technique, and is also related to the term “flamebait” (“flame” being contentious argument). The user casts out a line and waits to see if someone will bite. I’ve got very good sources on this one, please trust me on this. I think even in this particular situation, even with zealous master baiters (crass pun, I know, but I think it fits) instead of would-be hacker nerds, it’s still best to ignore them or delete their comments (since bringing a sysadmin down on them isn’t an option here).

  7. Indeed, sometimes the bad overshadows the good. However, please remember proper Christian’s would never criticize, nor condemn, as Jesus would have never done such a thing. I always find it ironic how some who claim to be religious act in the complete opposite manner as the person they claim to entrust their lives to – Jesus. I have never been a believer in organized religion as I find it rather confining and in all honesty if I need to speak with God I have a direct line,hence no need for the middle-man.

    In my experience those who criticize are merely reflecting their own failings towards another person. When people say hurtful things towards you it has nothing to do with you and has everything to do with them. It is best summed up by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

    Keep doing what you’re doing, I find your posts fascinating.
    Have an awesome day! 🙂

    ~Elizabeth

    • Thank you Elizabeth and I love the Roosevelt quote!

      I guess we should remember though that just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean that they will act perfectly; so perhaps it is possible that ‘real’ Christians can still have the tendency to act nasty…. no?

    • No one acts perfectly, but until we (humanity) throws out labels, labels are for things not people, there will always be strife. Seriously, no matter where one lives on this spinning top called Earth, the average person, (regardless of color, gender, race, or religion, or whatever box society stuffs one in) just wants to be happy, healthy, go to work, raise a family and simply…..be. I find it mind boggling that we havent figured that out yet…seriously we’ve been on the planet millions of years…one would think….

    • Totally agree with you Elizabeth 🙂

  8. My husband, The Boss, describes himself as a “recovering Catholic.” He was actually close to becoming a priest many years ago but got out because he didn’t want to live according to church politics. We now describe ourselves as music whores. We are singers and have sung at several churches, for years each, not chosen by denomination. We just want to sing.

    We have been badly treated by churches, separately and together. We are a little different from most of the members, in ways I needn’t go into here. But we have little or no emotional or spiritual attachment to the places where we sing. Our spirituality belongs to us. If we were ever to find a church that accepted differences and behaved like anything but a business, we would likely feel attached. But we are old, and it hasn’t happened yet even though we are in one every week.

    All that was to say, I get it. We know God gave us to each other. We hope there is an after death in which we can be together. We believe there is. But we also intend to continue living a joyful life NOW. The joylessness and judgment we see in every religious institution we’ve ever been in is not how we intend to live or die.

    God gave us minds and hearts. If your using yours alienates some people, then they are impoverished by their limitation, not you.

    • “music whores”

      I love that! Ha ha very good term 🙂

      “We have been badly treated by churches, separately and together. We are a little different from most of the members, in ways I needn’t go into here. But we have little or no emotional or spiritual attachment to the places where we sing”

      What I love about your comment is that in the midst of being treated badly over the years you haven’t lost your love of music and or have you given up on hope in God….. that is so beautiful 🙂

    • The sweetness of your reply startled me. I can almost feel my skin harden when I think, talk or write about these things. I suppose that’s why your reply took me by surprise. It really shouldn’t have. Thank you.

  9. Get the distinct impression that your detractors will also have the same thought. One email insult thrown over the vapours is a lot less scary than saying that to your face. I suspect only those who enjoy your company will show up.

    And what a gorgeous vulnerability to share with us all. Thank you.

    🙂

    • Well, if only the people who would enjoy my company will show up then that would be nice 😉 But I don’t mind talking with whoever…..I’ve always been pretty laid back about conversing with anyone……i’m still learning though how not to get ‘baited’.

  10. “I also suspect that another problem which may plague Christian laity is that they fall into the trap of worshiping their leaders.”

    I completely agree. That or they worship their religion. In my opinion, God a religion are two different things. God is Love and Religion is the method we choose to worships God. I found myself at a point in my life where religion had taken over faith, so that I valued the dogma and traditions more than I valued my personal relationship with God. I honestly think I was in that state for a long time, so it’s not easy to focus back on just God. When people get angry about small beliefs and ideas, when they start to think that their way is the only way, I think they are worshiping their religion above God. It’s crazy to think that religion could be a sort of false idol, but I see it all the time.

    Reading this reminds me of a time I expressed an opinion related to my personal beliefs. Someone commented with a single Bible verse

    “Proverbs 16, 25
    Sometimes a way seems right to a man, but the end of it leads to death.”

    I thought that was very interesting because the person leaving that comment is also a man. It could apply to my opinion as easily as theirs. I said as much, and was accused of thinking I was smarter than God. I was told this person wouldn’t feel bad for me as they watched me burn in hell from the gates of heaven (or something like that)

    I didn’t have a response to that. I didn’t tell the person their opinion was wrong, just that I thought that was a unique quote to choose and why I thought so. Apparently it was too much to hope that the person would engage me in thoughtful discussion.

    • TK, EXACTLY!

      I wish I had remembered to write that in the article, “That or they worship their religion”

      They worship their rules, they worship their religion, their dogmas, their fill-in-the-blank…… and then if someone like innocent ol’ me comes along (okay I’m not always so innocent) and says or does something that doesn’t fit in their ‘protocol’ then out comes the fire brands and they go on the attack…..

      Maybe that verse from Proverb’s is a go-to verse cuz Christians have used that one on me too! And each time it has been said to me I wanted to hurl it back at them and say, “well maybe your way seems right to you and it is simply the way that leads to death!”

      But the hardest thing is to bite my tongue and try and stay out of worthless conversations that go nowhere.

    • This person said nothing else outside of that quote and it was the first comment of its kind I had ever gotten. I thought I’d try and engage the person in what I thought was a reasonable discussion. The worst thing I said was “Personally, I find the Bible to be inspiring, but I also take it with a gain of salt. Even if it is inspired by Divinity, it was still written with a human hand. Because of that, the writer himself may have misinterpreted the original message.”

      I still don’t feel like I stepped over a line. If someone disagreed, they could tell me why they was a flawed way of thinking of the bible. I’d have no problem with that. But, I guess that person was not interested in having a discussion.

      ….here’s another random thought. What is the logic of just sending someone a quote from the bible? Do they think I will be struck by some divine thought that changes my life? I find it hard to believe that a quote, especially a quote taken out of context, can do anything to change anyone’s mind.

    • “here’s another random thought. What is the logic of just sending someone a quote from the bible? Do they think I will be struck by some divine thought that changes my life? I find it hard to believe that a quote, especially a quote taken out of context, can do anything to change anyone’s mind.”

      IT DRIVES ME NUTS!!!! Every week someone either emails me or comments on one of my older articles and they leave verses from the bible; as though their interpretation is the “RIGHT” one and everyone else’s view is the “WRONG” one…… too often they are not interested in honest back-and-forth discussion, they simply want to espouse their view; and if you don’t share their view then you must of course be a heretic

    • This sort of blinded thinking isn’t limited to religious people. I see many, many posts on blogs here having little or nothing to do with religion that purport to know how we should all live. It rankles. Maybe that’s partly because these self-appointed gurus are usually decades younger than I, and it KNOW how much I didn’t know then. In fact, I wrote a disclaimer last night on my own blog because I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to tell her or him how or what to think.

  11. The judgemental nature is what drove me away from organized religion. Just as people need someone to rally around, they also need a common enemy to rally against. I started having a problem with the “us” vs “them” mentality that too many people in the church seemed to embrace. Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, redemption and sin aren’t tangible enough for people here on earth to satiate their need to categorize which can lead to them spending their time focusing on pointing their fingers at other people to prove something to themselves. I once raised the point in my religion class that I was pretty sure the whole point of Jesus’ message was just to be a good person, leave the judging to God and dedicate your time and efforts to leaving the world a better place than you found it and had nothing to do with having to be for or against certain things in life. I was sent to the principle’s office and told I needed to spend more time reading the Bible if I didn’t understand that there was a “right” and a “wrong” way to view the world. Instead of worrying about other people being correct all the time (an impossible situation if ever there was one) I wish people would focus on improving themselves. Let he without sin….

    • “…I was sent to the principle’s office and told I needed to spend more time reading the bible….”

      Gosh, its stories like that which make my eye twitch; I mean what the hell was the teacher and principle thinking??? What they effectively conveyed is that you weren’t welcome to question what was being taught…..and I find that really eery!

      Great comment as usual

    • Yeah there was a lot of that going on in the private Catholic school I went to for several years. They forced us to lie during the mock presidential elections the school had and say Bush won over Clinton, they didn’t like to teach any type of science other than earth science and they even pulled me from the region wide quiz bowl after my bible comparison report (we were told to compare two other bibles to the king James bible) happened to be a very well constructed side by side of the Mormon and satanic bible vs the king James…apparently they didn’t want anyone who would even touch the satanic bible representing their school. (For the record my school then came in last in the quiz bowl as I sat in the audience answering all the questions correctly and making the field trip chaperone parent wonder why the principle would refuse to let me go compete)

    • Pardon me a small chuckle while I confess that I am a grammar and spelling nerd. I remember in school being taught, “If you want to spell principal right, remember, the principal is your pal“, well, speaking on principle, your principal WASN’T your pal!

    • Jak, AWESOME comment… that might go in my vault as one of my favorite comments from the week 😀

    • My spelling and grammar skills have definitely waned over the years, there was a time where it would’ve proved near impossible to catch a mistake in my writing, curse technology, auto correct and spell check!

    • Yes, I’m sure it’s why iPhone autocorrect fails are quite popular on the ‘Net now. I also noticed that spell checkers can’t catch homophones– if a word is spelled right, but isn’t the correct word, it still doesn’t catch it.

      I’m a visually-oriented learner, by the way (I remember words as I have seen them), and I recognize that not everyone is– as long as the meaning is clear, I figure it’s not worth getting too uptight about spelling/grammar/syntax mistakes.

    • I had to learn to tone it down, I used to be a copy editor in my early years and misspellings and grammatical errors always made me twinge. Sometimes I worry I’ve become too lax about it because it seems like no one notices or cares anymore. In a way it’s actually nice to have it pointed out because it shows there are still people out there who remember the differences and correct spellings of words most people can’t be bothered to care about.

    • That’s the kindest thing I’ve read all day today. Thank you.

  12. Are you kidding me? Emails like that daily….I’m about to go all redheaded sister up in here…get back!!!!!!!
    Frack!! And then I’m going pull in Oldest Daughter and teach them a thing or two!! 😉

  13. Cool you’ll be coming to San Francisco! 🙂

  14. I just hate the ‘holier than thou’ attitude that seems to be attached to many orthodox and unorthodax religions.

    I think everyone has a right to practice their own religious belief, it’s part of the constitution. But when belief turns to a practice of condemning others who don’t believe as you do, then we have created hypocrites. You either want religious freedom or your don’t. It can’t be religious freedom for you…but not others.

    I also dislike those religious groups who encourage others to infringe on the lives of others by communicating their message in such a way as they can’t be ignored. Having spent most of my life on the west coast, I was surprised at some of the influence of the bible belt, her in Florida. Megaphones in the heaviest tourist areas, all day long…about how the people are sinners, etc. Imagine saving up for you relaxing vacation only to hear this all day long. They are now off of our main tourist area, after three years of being there…only to move closer to my home. I kept hearing what sounded like a rally megaphone. This went on for weeks..though it was not a distinct noise, it was always in the background. Last week, I saw where it was coming from, a man on a major intersection…literally three miles away.

    The final straw was when my sister, a Mennonite told my aunt who was the sweetest, nicest person in the world…who helped all of us in times of trouble, no questions asked. My sister told her she was going to go to hell because she didn’t go to church on Sunday. GRRRRRR….

    I think I need another cup of coffee…

    • “The final straw was when my sister, a Mennonite told my aunt who was the sweetest, nicest person in the world…who helped all of us in times of trouble, no questions asked. My sister told her she was going to go to hell because she didn’t go to church on Sunday. GRRRRRR….”

      Gosh, I’ve heard that one before…… as if the creator of the universe is gong to judge our soul based on how often we attend church… to those people I want to say; REALLY???

  15. Well, I love what you write, and if I don’t like what you say… I don’t have to read it.
    It’s too bad that these other “people” don’t utilize that option.

    See you soon in California!

    Rhan

  16. Thomas Merton says that “Pride is a deep, insatiable need for unreality, an exorbitant demand that others believe the lie we have made ourselves believe about ourselves”. Like misery, pride loves company.

  17. Keep on writing…and traveling! The self-righteous will always judge and they will call themselves “christian” despite their lack of humility, acceptance and love for all…which I think is what it (christianity) is all about. I enjoy reading your posts, whether I agree with them or not, they are always thought provoking!

  18. You’ve hit on why thousands of pastors leave the ministry every year. I applaud the pastor you knew who pastored for over 40 years. His reward is great in heaven. 🙂

    “And to the person who emailed me this past week telling me that I am an “awful Christian and need to shut up”, well thanks for sharing your thoughts…..but for now I think I’m going to keep on writing.”
    As a pastor, I say, keep on writing! I will have that coffee with you…

    • Yea, I’ve known a few pastors who gave up the ministry because of the ridiculous pressure placed on them….. its a difficult calling to say the least.

  19. ” There is no freedon, no culture without work.” Mihai Eminescu
    I believe this quote fits you very well right now, Kenneth. I see you have to deal with “lions” to attend your goal, your work and to keep your belief. I am not the best Christian and I do not know all the rules of a good one but I do not think you ever wrote something which were not good or evil. It’s up to everyone which is normal or abnormal and which is the criteria of the values…

  20. I’ve heard it said that arrogance is not a matter of thinking too highly of yourself; it is a matter of not thinking highly enough of others. (Kris Vallatton, I think) I admire the respect you demonstrate for others by listening. Although obviously you can’t agree with everyone, especially those who do not think highly enough of you, you can live with integrity yourself, by knowing who you are in Christ, responding in love to those who curse you and living in that same kind of love for yourself by shaking off the dust and moving on. May you have coffee with angels.

  21. I used to drive a bus. And one nasty run-in with a customer could ruin a whole day as I’d sit and ruminate over it. Now I do sales, and it’s made me much tougher. It’s a matter of pride that I control my attitude and that the customer does not control my attitude. It’s a game with myself, like walking a tightrope. Though I still slip and fall from time to time. Some abuse gets under my skin still. But I tell myself, ‘Well, I called them.’

    • Schn00dles,

      I totally know what you mean; if I’m not careful I can let one reader really get under my skin…. so I’ve had to learn how to just move on and not think about the bad apples.

  22. Keep writing, Kenneth! Your blog and the book “Tribes” have encouraged me to speak up about the truth, as I understand it. The choices are to do so or to appease. If the people attacking you have some truth behind them, they can only benefit from hearing other perspectives.

    I really relate to this whole blog but especially the beginning about leaders being attacked from all sides. It’s just easy to attack leaders rather than take the risks of leading or expending the effort to work together with leaders to get things done.

    • ” It’s just easy to attack leaders rather than take the risks of leading or expending the effort to work together with leaders to get things done.”

      Beautifully said 🙂

  23. I think a lot of people feel threatened by pastors. They represent an inherent insecurity in people, and I suppose some people try to meet that insecurity by attacking the symbol rather than the issue within. People laugh, mock, and attack pastors as a way of saying, “Look, you aren’t perfect, either!” But yes, I imagine the pressure on them is terrible.

    • “They represent an inherent insecurity in people, and I suppose some people try to meet that insecurity by attacking the symbol rather than the issue within”

      Ya know that is exactly what I was thinking this morning; I read three or four emails last night from different people and I was thinking today; perhaps those people simply can’t accept the fact that they are either wrong about their own beliefs, or that they are insecure about their beliefs…… at least I’m going with that at the moment 😉

  24. If we avoid or offend everyone that make mistakes or just disagree with them, we will always live alone and miserable; Perfect doesn’t fit to human, so judge less, love more.

    • “if we avoid or offend everyone that makes mistakes or just disagree with them, we will always live alone and miserable”

      Dude, that is so well said; I agree!

  25. Keep on truckin’ man. It’s the price of popularity, and I’m sure the Creator has more in store for you. He’ll, I believe in what you’re doing. I’m eating it up.

  26. I find it so very interesting that Christians can easily forget WWJD? I don’t think he’d show up at a coffee house and berate you…

    • lol I agree Cate….I wish he was the one I was meeting with and not the haters ;). Although I gotta say, everyone in Atlanta was awesome; if every trip goes like that then I will be on cloud 9 all year 😀

  27. I’ve mentioned that the LDS church has a lay clergy before, haven’t I, Kenneth? That means a number of things:

    – none except the head leadership (the General Authorities) get ANY compensation, and even then, it’s only according to their time, and isn’t much; most rely on pensions, and other retirement

    – we don’t use the business model for leadership– someone could be called to be a bishop (that’s more or less a pastor for us) for a few years, be released, and then be called to work in the nursery next. That actually DID happen to my father– rather, he was called to be a counselor to the bishop, then later, he was called to work in the nursery.

    – again, callings aren’t permanent, so many congregation members will hold many different callings.

  28. I just started following you and I am intrigued! I believe in God and Jesus ‘ yet I have a stifling difficult time with the amount of judgement within the Christian church and the downright cruel things people do and say in the name of “Jesus”. The self righteous , holier than thou attitude that permeates Christian culture (at times! not all times) is hard for me to digest. Haters are going to exist and wow what a brave thing you are doing with your blog etc.

  29. Of course that person wants you to shut up Kenneth – you are ACTUALLY being a good Christian and talking about what it means to have love and grace in your heart and to show that to other human beings- you’re showing that person up lol. People can’t stand it when others are “successful” if you will. Plus, you’re undermining their whole message and how can they “brainwash” others if you’re trying to undo their work? I mean really…the nerve of you Kennth lol. I was raised Catholic – I still have my faith and quite frankly you’re a better “Christian” than I am because you’re still much more active in church and reading the Bible, etc., but those aren’t the only things that make people good “Christians.” I decided a long time ago there’s being religious and there’s being spiritual. The hypocrisy of religious folks gets overwhelming. To me, those who are spiritual still believe just as firmly, they’re simply without the negative and hypocrisy. Anyway, by taking this tour, it could open yourself up to that negativity as much as the positive but even that can be an interesting experience. 🙂 I hope that you only have positive ones or at least ones who may challenge you but at least respectfully. Truth is, the really super negative folks are not likely to ever have the guts to tell it to your face Kenneth. The Internet does make it easy for nay sayers to be prevalent but they usually don’t take it off the ‘Net because they’re spineless. Granted, a few may be like that in their regular lives also but still most likely only in certain settings and with crowds. Most are cowards otherwise. It’s sad that miserable people can’t just be miserable alone – they have to try and drag others with them. Oh well. Excited to hear more from your tour as you go along. 🙂

  30. I’m sorry you catch so much flak. Some people try to act like God. Some of those people are believers, some are just acting religious but don’t know a thing about God’s grace.

  31. You are so funny, you’ve indicated “and most importantly the conversations solidified my resolve of never wanting to be in church leadership”. Does that mean you are in control of your destiny? What if you get a calling to be in such a position, will you run hiding like Jonah? Funny. If you say you believe there is a God, then at what level are you conscious that He is talking to you and when He takes a hand in your life for His purpose will you say “no thank you, I’ll pass”? What if in the next couple of months He becomes more than a hearsay God and involves Himself intricately into your business/life and turns things upside down? what will you do? W

    • Not answering for Kenneth, of course– I’m sure he will in good time– but this is my observation and my personal experience: many biblical prophets were humble, and often questioned their capability at the time of their calling. Moses said he was slow of speech. Enoch said he was just “a lad” and that all the people hated him, and why had he found favor in the Lord’s sight? (I make note of Enoch because according to LDS scripture, not only he, but his whole city, called Zion, was taken into heaven.) Even the Apostle Peter, when Jesus called him, fell down at his feet, and said “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8, KJV Bible)

      I have personally found that the true leaders never do aspire to their callings. They aren’t interested in praise, or fame, or assume that they are qualified. No, what I have read over and over again (and experienced for myself) is that they are painfully aware of their shortcomings. Yes, a few, like Jonah, run away (and the people of Nineveh repented, despite his reluctance). Thankfully there is more mention of those that trusted in the God of Abraham to empower them for what they were asked to do. It does not seem to me that God calls those who the world deems qualified, but by His matchless power and grace, God qualifies whom He calls.

    • I agree with you are saying; but i’m not sure if you are in agreement or not with the question I asked KJ. It’s a heavy mantle to go to folks (especially in our society today) and say “thus saith the Lord” they will call the medics in the white coat pretty quickly. (are you familiar with the story of Jehu when he got anointed and called out? The prophet Elisha had sent was instructed to take him to a closet by himself, pour the oil, give the message then run. I thought that was funny. But its pretty intensive when you are called. Thanks for responding.

    • I’ll wait to see what he says. I think, though, that there is a difference between leaders as many people perceive them, and leaders truly called of God. I think some are truly acknowledged, like Mother Teresa, but other true leaders I think the spotlight has passed over. Quiet, unassuming leaders do not seem to profit mass media.

    • Approval of mass media is good, but if you are called by God: he owns the cattle on a thousand hill and after all you only seek His approval. Let him deal with your detractors.

    • I keep telling myself that. That’s the plan, to trust Him implicitly. (I’m still scared, though… I feel all too mortal, and flawed.)

    • Leap of faith. I used to hear the phrase “self has got to die” had no clue what it meant. But God provides. Wait and trust. W

  32. Kenneth, I want to read more examples of your hate mail. I can imagine how funny some of it must be.

  33. What goes around comes around. A lot of preachers say hurtful things. People like to get even with the hired entertainment

  34. I agree with you 1000%! There is not a
    day that goes by where I am astounded by the hypocrisy of many of our brethren. Hang in there. 🙂 Blessings, Lydia

  35. I don’t know how you do it. I admire your success but I don’t know if I could keep blogging if it meant getting hateful comments. I know, I’ve heard that it is part of being a successful blogger. But most of us blogging may never get to that point, so I guess we’ll never know if we could handle it or not 😉 I suspect it also depends on what we blog about… whether we’re willing to write about controversial things, but still, there’s some mean people out there.
    Regarding pastors, I have mixed feelings. I think someone should only go into it if they really want to serve. It’s not just a job, and I’ve known some pastors that treated it that way. Then there’s the whole mega-church, prosperity preachers, that totally turns me off. But for the genuine ones, it’s awful that they’re treated so harshly. I spent some time as a support group leader in the homeschooling community, and I was shocked by how vicious people could be toward “leaders”. You risk a lot when you put yourself out there in any way, whether it’s blogging or ministry or a cause or group that you care about. People want to be led but they also turn on leaders quite quickly.

    • “You risk a lot when you put yourself out there in any way, whether it’s blogging or ministry or a cause or group that you care about”

      That sums it up so perfectly!

  36. I hope Atlanta treated you kindly this weekend. Our snow caused youngest son’s music festival to be rescheduled and I’m sorry I missed you. Anyone with an elevated profile such as yours will be subjected to fanatics who call themselves Christian even when they are so far removed from Christ-like behavior. We have lots of them here in the Bible Belt. It is the truth you speak that provokes their prideful hearts. Only God can help people like that. Stay true to yourself but stay safe. People these days are crazy…

  37. Sadly, it is those type of Christians that make people “run for their lives” from Christianity. They do more to destroy the Christian Churches than any pastor and/or church leader. Hope you will come to the Four Corners area and I will tell you all about what a Christian should be (HA HA JUST KIDDING!) It goes with anything though. The other day I was reading a blog of a woman that simply gave her “opinion” about how some men treat women in the workplace. This “commenter” wrote a book about how wrong she was in the comment section — TWICE!!

  38. Reblogged this on Undercover Jesus and commented:
    The sad truth of those that work with ‘Christians’. Great article also check out my article The Unseen Struggles of Pastors

  39. The problem most people have with Christianity is likely not to be with the philosophy or belief, as it is with the Christians and how they choose not to live out their faith. People can be hideous at how they judge and compare people. In my way of thinking and interpreting Christianity, this sort of attitude does not belong. Christianity embraces sinners, our imperfect state and attempts to elevate us into acting and doing better for others. So sad that people tell you “what you need” when you probably own more of it than they do.

  40. Kenneth – I just wanted to drop you a quick note and say thank you for today’s post. It’s refreshing to read the words of a fellow believer who doesn’t couch his language in flowery religious words and catch-phrases, and is bold enough to share what many people are thinking. As a pastor, I have been on the receiving end of the cruelty and mean words and actions from other… people. People are people, they are imperfect, but we are all loved by an amazingly gracious God who is good all the time, and loves us no matter how much we mess up.
    One of the best books I have ever read is The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning – an ex-catholic priest ex-alcoholic, and I think you would enjoy his writings. He too is refreshingly honest, open and real. Two quotes from this book that most impacted me are these ones (not his own):
    “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
    “A saint is not someone who is good, but someone who has experienced the goodness of God.”
    I wish you all the best on your coffeehouse tour, and pray that you would have many wonderful encounters with genuine disciples of Jesus Christ who show you love, acceptance and forgiveness. Amen!

    • Ive read the book, its a good one 🙂

      “As a pastor, I have been on the receiving end of the cruelty and mean words and actions from other…”

      Yea, I definitely don’t envy you; people often think that being in the ministry is full of flowery easy days…. but after sitting with my friend for 19 years at coffee and listening to all of his various struggles in the ministry I saw how hard it can be spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When he died two years ago I’m sure he was greeted with great thanksgiving for his nearly 50 years of work in the ministry 🙂

    • Kenneth – if I didn’t really believe that God was real, and that He had called me to the ministry, it’s not a calling I would have chosen for myself, that’s for sure. But that being said, even though the accolades (from men on the earth below) are few and far between, when I see people’s lives touched, blessed and changed by our amazing gracious heavenly Father, it makes it worth it all!
      Hope you’re enjoying your coffee tour… any chance you’ll make a Tim Horton’s up here in Manitoba, Canada along the way? 🙂

    • Well, I love Tim Horton, there is one four blocks from my house that I stop by all the time actually….. but Manitoba might be a bit too far out of my way this year. I’ll be in Toronto, but I know that is quite a ways from there……. who knows though, at the moment I’m keeping September – December free at this point in order to add stops to my tour so we’ll see what happens 🙂

  41. Reblogged this on New Life and commented:
    Check out this post by a fellow coffee-loving Christian from the US. It’s refreshing to read the words of a fellow believer who doesn’t couch his language in flowery religious words and catch-phrases, and is bold enough to share what many people are thinking. And follow his blog if you want to be inspired – and challenged in your thinking!

  42. You know, this post reminds me of a story.

    Dimitri is sitting on his front step, warming himself in the morning sun when a small child comes running up to him.

    “Grandpa, how did you get your name?”.

    “Ah, child, I have been expecting this question for some time. Come with me and let me explain”.

    “See our house? I dug the foundations with these hands, selecting the stones that would support it and keep out the water. I cut the logs and shaped them into the timbers that I would assemble into the home that would keep our family safe and warm for three generations. But do they call me ‘Dimitri the Builder?”.

    “See these fields? I sweated at toiled to clear them of rocks. Ploughed, watered and fertilised them for season after season. I planted the fruit, vegetables and olive trees that would feed so many in this village and help to bring them through the great famine. But am I ‘Dimitri the Farmer?'”.

    “Come down to the docks. I went to sea every day for forty years. I brought in the catches that ensured our village would prosper and it’s people stay healthy. But am I known as ‘Dimitri the Fisherman?'”.

    “Look all around you. See your brothers, sisters and cousins. Your father, mother, uncles and aunts. I am forbear to all of them. I was there to help when they were born. I cared for them when they were sick. I was there to toast their future when they were married. But do people say “Look, there goes Dimitri the Patriarch?”‘.

    “But you f*** just one lousy goat …”.

  43. keep after it…I guess I was blessed to have been raised in a Christian environment that wasn’t so self righteous…grandfather and uncle were both pastors….it is a tough life for them….I struggle with the self righteous attitude, it certainly isn’t in the teachings of Christ! I believe humble would be more in line with his teachings!

  44. Greetings Kenneth–read with interest the comments about pastors and priests and how one person wrote in to suggest there should be some way of ‘removing’ him from his post. Wouldn’t that makes us like him. Afterall as you said priests and pastors are people too. They are falible and subjected to the same temptations as the rest of us. I guess if you see or know of a priest or pastor who is not living up to the standards that many expect of him the easiest way of dealing with that(or him) would be to stop listening to him–stop associating with him–move on from him. With no audience he cannot hurt anyone. Too much time is spent trying to change others into who we think they should be so that they suit us better–that’s how I see it anyway–Jim

  45. Hi Kenneth, this blog post has inspired me to write one of my own on the same topic. I hope that you don’t mind that I have referenced this post in my blog. I am including a link to your post. Blessings

  46. “… and most importantly the conversations solidified my resolve of never wanting to be in church leadership.”

    I totally understand, but you’d be great in church/ministry leadership because of how you see things. They need people like you…. You’d get the horrible Christian treatment for sure, everyone who tries to do good does, but the good you’d accomplish would be amazing. Working with Christians is kind of horrible, though, lol a cross to bear in itself!

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