Tag Archives: Eugene Peterson

But will I respect you in the morning?

Scott is writing about the culture of evangelical clergy and how it differs from almost every other job in the world.  This comment was as good as the post.

guilt was more what I felt going on those "junkets". I remember skipping a breakfast buffet that was being paid by the church. we had 10min to eat and it cost $14.95 (in 2001). One pastor said to me, "who cares, the church is paying for it." Bingo…

end-wall-st-bull-collapsed-slide That statement could have been overhead by a AIG executive on their half million dollar retreat after the government had to give them $40 billion to stay solvent.  It may have been said while workmen were spending $1.2 million on the CEO of Merill Lynch’s office after it was bailed out and bought by Bank of America.   He also made headlines this week when he gave out $4 billion in bonus’ to executives after it was reported that the bank lost $15 billion last quarter.  It wasn’t just him.  Wall Street bonuses declined only 4.7% last year to an average of $180,420 per worker, according to the latest figures from the New York State Comptroller’s office. One of the worst years in Wall Street’s history, a year when three illustrious banks – Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch – closed, was still one of the best years for bonuses.   It also could have been heard over the sounds of the private jet engines starting up that the Big 3 execs took to Washington a couple of weeks ago.  They weren’t footing the bill, their shareholders and hopefully us taxpayers would.

Back to Scott’s post.  In a lot of denominations, the senior pastor is expected to be in the pulpit between 40 and 42 Sunday’s a year.  If you have enough years of service in, there is six weeks of holidays to take which brings you down to 46 weeks of preaching and then from there on the last six plus weeks were for conferences, retreats, and study time.  Depending on the interpretation, some used those weeks off as additional vacation time under the guise of study break (I knew of one pastor who would read one book on his four week study break) or some choose to take the sermon prep time for study or time for spiritual exercises and just don’t preach on that Sunday.

I am not sure I care to get into the specifics of pastoral theology but some guys I know don’t work very hard and are experts at milking the system.  Eugene Peterson writes about them in Working the Angles and I think we all know of some of them.  Scott alludes to them as the “good old days” and he is right, him and I met up at several conferences. I think any of us who were in pastoral leadership actually personified it at one point of our lives.  Pernell Goodyear once told me of a video where the creators tried to find a pastor in his office on a Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.  They were unsuccessful in their search and he never did mention a spiritual disaster the night before that would require them all to sleep in.

My point is that there is a culture of entitlement in evangelical circles as well.  No one actually thinks they are a part of a culture of entitlement as when you are in that culture it makes sense to take a private jet to beg for bailouts, take in a couple thousand dollars in travel a year when your church is laying off staff, or spend $1.2 million to redecorate your office when you are bankrupt.  It’s always going to be someone else’s money and that is a hard temptation to overcome.  The mistake is that we think that no one else sees what is going on but it always comes out, even if you are apart of a sub culture that condones it, other outside it are saying it okay. In every bad decision listed above, I am sure most were run by someone else and it made sense to them as well.  Just because someone else says it is okay, it doesn’t mean it is.   I am not sure if that is worth the price of a new office, avoiding the lines in the Detroit airport, or even a free breakfast that the church will pay for because when the emperor is seen without his clothes, no one respects him in the morning.