Like a dog at a whistle convention |

Like a dog at a whistle convention

Eugene C. Scott

Every occupation has its drawbacks. Being a pastor is no exception. People react oddly to pastors. (Probably because most pastors are odd.) Many people believe pastors have virgin ears. It’s interesting to watch people mentally backtrack, worrying and wondering whether they used any foul language before they discovered what I do. Also, the whole working every Sunday thing is annoying. Just kidding. My work is confusing. Riding a lift up Vail Mountain to perform a slope side wedding one day a young boarder asked what I did for a living. “Iím a pastor,” I answered. He edged away, did a quick mental check to remember if he had cussed, nodded and said, “Sweet!” Then he asked, “What do you do the rest of the week?”I’m never sure how to answer that question. I still find it difficult to define my calling. Someone once said being a pastor is like being a dog at a dog whistle convention. Jesus too seemed to labor under conflicting expectations. Judas may have expected Jesus to conquer Rome. Instead Jesus healed lepers, hung out with women, collaborated with common laborers, and died as a criminal. The religious leaders expected him to validate their view of God. Yet Jesus refused to authenticate their picture of a God who prized only a chosen few. Rather he lived a more expansive, nuanced, vibrant portrait than anyone before or after him: a picture of a God who loved unconditionally the least to the greatest. Jesus always knew who he was and what he was about. I like that about him.Often Jesus described himself as a servant. Without losing or denigrating himself, Jesus constantly sought to serve others. He told his worried mother and brothers, ì. . . the Son of Man [one of the titles Jesus gave himself] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.î Thatís not what his mom wanted to hear. Shortly after that confrontation, and true to his purpose, Jesus asked two blind men, ìWhat do you want me to do for you?î Jesus then touched them and healed them. As a servant, Jesus always provided what was needed, not always what was asked for. Thatís where I often go wrong. Itís hard for me to tell the difference between my own needs and wants much less those Iím called to serve. Further, itís just damn hard to be a servant! As a follower of Christ, I know my highest calling is to be like Christóa servant. ìWhoever wants to be great among you must be your servant,î Jesus said. Especially as a pastor, I know I’m supp osed to ask, ìIn the name of Jesus what do you want me to do for you?î But too often I falter. Iím reluctant to lower myself. In a culture built on self-protection, self-promotion, and the idolizing of the rich and powerful, selfless servanthood is not highly prized. In our world the words ìmay I help you?î flow fluently from the mouths of those working at McDonalds but from few others, even pastors. Still when I manage to serve with Christ-like confidence, is when I know best who I am and what I was created for. Then my life, my occupation, my recreation makes sense. Christ and his calling for me to serve centers me. I no longer feel like a dog at a dog whistle convention, but rather closer to that original, delicious design for humanity that we strayed from so long ago. The reality is that our own acute needs are best met when we seek to serve others, while seeking self-fulfillment becomes as futile as filling a cavernous hole one snowflake at a time. Before any of us has what it takes to serve with such confidence and compassion, however, we often have to answer that dangerous question Jesus is still asking today, ìWhat do you want me to do for you?îEugene C. Scott is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Their services meet on Sundays at 8a.m. in the Beaver Creek Chapel and 11a.m. in the Vail Interfaith Chapel. You can reach Scott at or 477-0383.Vail, Colorado

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