stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

I’ve been in ministry for a while now, and I really love being a pastor.  My job is fun, interesting, challenging, and strange.  There are some things you do not learn in college when preparing to go into ministry, though, leaving you shocked and amazed along the way.  The same can probably be said of most career fields, but I don’t have a normal career, and I want to give you some insights into my life.  Most of what I share will be from my earliest days in ministry, because that’s when I learned the most, and because some things take time before they can become funny.  I don’t think I can tell you everything today, though.  There was too much information left out of my training.  Let’s begin, shall we.

1.  You can do way more as a volunteer than you can as paid staff.

This doesn’t sound like it’s true, but it is.  As a young, unpaid youth pastor in Florida, I was allowed to plan events that included rock music.  My first week on staff, though, I was told by my new boss that not even Christian rock was okay, and it was only my spiritual immaturity that led me to liking it.  Apparently, exposing kids to Christian rock was the same as having a lock-in and serving O’Douls.

2.  Never trust a junior high boy on his own at a youth event.

I should have known, but I didn’t.  I always liked working with junior high and gave them the benefit of the doubt.  It’s a bad idea.  Here’s a small list of things junior high boys have done at youth events: bought a swimsuit calendar from the ice dancers at a hockey game (at my first youth event ever, and he was related to the lead pastor), thrown up in the bathroom and left it on the floor without telling anyone, prank called the lead pastor from the office phone in the middle of the night, and drink 4 monsters during a 3 hour youth event.  And guess what!  That was all my from my first three months in ministry.

3.  You can trust a junior high girl alone at a youth event, but never trust a pack of them.

On her own, an individual junior high girl will most likely be respectful towards adults, to the church property, and to others at and event.  Putting them in packs, however, changes the tide.  I’m not sure if there is a chemical reaction that happens or what, but things can get nuts.  So what have the junior high girls of yesteryear done to bring this judgment upon all future junior high girls?  Well, they’ve completely destroyed bathrooms (TP-ing, rubbing hand lotion all over mirrors, clogged toilets with paper towel, emptying entire cans of air freshener at once), gotten into the kinds of gang battles you would expect to see in the movie The Warriors (only a threat when there are two large groups of girls that seriously dislike each other), prank called the lead pastor in the middle of the night (and the girl that led this charge was related to the boy that led their efforts), and make each other cry with what they consider a mild prank (while universities the world over have banned similar practices under the label of hazing).

4.  Church vans are not safe, no matter what the pastor/deacons/finance committee say.

On our way back from camp, we blew out a tire on the highway.  We got the spare out, and it was complete mush, but we still had to use it.  Two weeks before leaving, I asked in a staff meeting if we could get new tires for the van.  I was assured that they would be fine for travel, and if not, the spare could be used, because it was newer and had never seen road use.  I guess I should have gotten the tool kit out, lowered the spare from under the van, and had a look for myself.  On another note, when we got back, I let the powers that be know that the van smelled really badly, and it needed a good cleaning.  Turns out there were several kinds of mold growing inside the panels and under the carpets.  My lungs probably still haven’t recovered.

I’ll stop at four lessons for now.  I don’t want to overwhelm you.  I also don’t want to write anymore, because I’m tired, lazy, and uxorious.  We should pick up again next week.

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