I’m a Pastor at a church in Southgate, Michigan, called LivingWater. We’re not a very fancy church, we still meet in a school because we (apparently) don’t attract a lot of wealthy people, but the people we have are great and the work is good. Still, I realize that for those who knew me back in the day, this can be a little weird. “Has Dave become some kind of religious fanatic? What if he starts preaching at me? What if he judges me? What if I accidently cuss in front of him? What do you say to a guy who is a pastor?”
For those who have only known me since I started this work, I get the opposite sometimes. It’s really more of an attitude that you get from people: “Why don’t you talk about spiritual stuff more? Why don’t you do this or that? Why aren’t you what I expect you to be? You’re not very religious for a pastor.”
Well, to answer the fanatic thing: It depends on what your definition of a fanatic is. If by “fanatic” you mean a person who believes in God, believes Jesus is God, and believes faith should really mean something to us on a day to day basis, then I guess I’m a fanatic. I love God in Christ and I don’t care what anyone thinks about that. It’s who I am. Unfortunately, just being a person of faith is all it takes to drive some people away. I can’t do anything about that. But I am not in people’s faces with this all the time. I don’t shove “religion” down anyone’s throat. I’m here to help if you ask, but I am not a Bible thumper. I don’t believe the Bible needs any thumping. It does fine without it. So I am not trying to twist any arms or “sell religion” to anyone. When you get it right, you realize there’s nothing to buy or sell anyway. It’s an honor to follow Christ, not a chore.
But, on top of simply being a person of faith, being a pastor is really a challenge sometimes because people forget that I’m still just me. I’m just Dave. I’m the same guy who grew up in Taylortucky. I’m still a weird blend of artsy fartsy mildly intellectual and B movie lowest common denominator enthusiast. I still like all kinds of music, I still write all kinds of music, and I like to watch a good movie (or a bad one). I don’t watch a lot of TV because it mostly stinks, but I do like Fringe. I like hanging out and drinking coffee and talking about whatever, which I don’t get to do much sometimes because people expect me to talk about SPIRITUAL things. They think I’m being shallow by talking about what they perceive to be NON SPIRITUAL things. While other people don’t want to be around me or are just nervous around me because they think I might start talking about SPIRITUAL things.
I can’t win.
“Why don’t you talk about spiritual stuff more?” How about this: How about the reality that everything I talk about is spiritual. It all has to do with truth or lies. It all has to do with God or the Devil or the Flesh. I focus on creativity because I believe in a Creator. Creativity in all its forms is an implication of that reality. As one of my favorite bands says, we ourselves are, by our design, “the signature of divine.” But why do we have to be so obvious all the time? Is God obvious all the time? I don’t think so. I find God to be very subtle. In one way or another, everything in my life and everything I talk about, everything we experience and talk about, is ultimately spiritual, one way or another. As Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.”
The story of our lives is either moving us closer to God or farther from God. I, personally, want to move closer. And I believe God is in the details of that journey. I believe in a creation where God is actively everywhere. He’s got stuff going on. When I was growing up, God was there. When I was hit by a bus, God was up to something. When I was arrogant and angry and confused in my teens and twenties, God pushed me to a different place. When I met my wife and finally started to figure out what I should be doing with my life, God did things to get my attention. I did not always understand it fully or see it while it was going down, but God’s hand has always been in the details of my life. I am only a person who has come to realize that fact and I’m trying to respond instead of treating God like he isn’t there. I am not a televangelist. I am not a psycho Christian. I am not interested in using "religion" to beat people up or prove I’m right. I just want to share life with people in a meaningful way and help people respond with love to the reality of God in Christ.
And have some good coffee along the way.
This is who I am: I am a child of God. I do the work of a pastor. But I’m still . . . just . . . me.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010