just a man

I like being treated as a normal human being.

Yesterday a member of our community, someone I consider a friend, just dropped by my study with a cup of coffee, plopped in one of my chairs and just chatted away with me as if I was a normal human being. A friend. That person has no idea how much that meant to me. This person wasn't looking for anything, didn't think I had some special piece of advice stored upstairs somewhere, didn't feel the urge to discuss theology or world events, didn't treat me like I was a holy man or expect to be treated like a parishioner. It was so refreshing. It did me a lot of good. I was more blown away by the genuine gesture than the content of our conversation. No expectations, just like a regular friend. Oh my God, thank you.

I find more and more that I gravitate away from people who expect something of me or expect me to expect something of them. I am finding that I tend to avoid situations where it is assumed that I should act properly, holy, wise, pastoral, gifted, insightful, radical, christian, priestly, balanced or whatever. I prefer hanging out with people who don't seem to get that I'm a pastor, that I am in the business of righteousness, that I am supposed to be concerned about changing the world, that I run a church enterprise, that I have an inside track to the Almighty, that I have answers, that I know how to fix their problems if they'd only ask! I abhor appreciation, which is just the baby sister of adoration, and both are the daughters of worship. Oh, I appreciate being appreciated and respected just as a person, but nothing more. But, I can smell pastor-worship a mile away and avoid it like the plague. I can sniff out religious expectation way up the road and will ditch to avoid it and warn everyone around me to do the same. Give me prostitutes, drunks and gluttons any day!

Which leads me to the very real realization that I must treat my brothers and sisters in kind. I vow to treat them with full respect as human beings. I will treat them as equals. I will not place any expectations on them. I will not suggest that I know how to live their lives better than they do. I will not insinuate that they are in any way less than I. I will not live before them as though I am special and deserve any form of immunity that they don't enjoy. I will not imagine that my life is any more together than theirs. I will not assume that God loves me more and is better to me. I will treat them with love and kindness, just as I would from them. I will treat them, not as my servants, but as my friends.

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