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Monday, March 25, 2013

A letter to the Childish Men I Don't Know but Observe Every Day (A Cathartic Diary Entry)

Dear diary,

People expect pastors to have an opinion on matters. It’s part of the job. But individual rebuke/correction is done in relationship. Where there is trust. Where there is invitation. Where that expectation of accountability and editability has been established. Where you can be certain you have the other’s best interest at heart. When you can be certain you don’t enjoy it. (I have two or three men who call me out on things in my life that have gone awry. They are my life editors. Relationships like theirs are precious). 

Calling out someone one-on-one isn’t always appropriate. I’m a big fan of communication rules, biblical process, and weighing our intentions and the potential for growth. I’m also aware it is not my job to convict.

Sometimes, the rules allow me to say harsh truths to a general audience. Large groups of people, in the context of a sermon, will hear instruction and even rebuke differently than if they heard the same thing spoken to them as an individual.

For example, if I am preaching and I say, “Men, quit being an idiot and _____________ (fill in the blank)” it will often get met with laughter, applause, nods of approval, and/or conviction. A few men might even meet me afterward who say something like, “Man, I felt like you were talking right to me. The Holy Spirit really used your words. Thank you.”

However, if I pick out that same guy from the crowd and talk to him after church and say, “Hey, man. You need to quit being an idiot” he might punch me in the face. If I’m honest, I think sometimes it would be worth it.

Sometimes, I wish I could say a few things with no fear of backlash. With no fear of anyone saying, “Are pastors supposed to talk like that?” Sometimes I wish I could break all the communication and relationship rules and just say what needs to be said.

I have an opportunity to observe the lives of many men. I'm privy to more stories. I get a closer view than the average guy because many send me emails or Facebook posts--looking for advice and direction. Because their wives complain about them. Because their kids express feelings to me. Because of my community involvement. Because they sometimes show up at church. Because I watch them live out their lives in social networking.

It’s easy to get depressed as I watch lives waste away. Lives that are close enough to reach but far enough away to lack permission to speak. Close enough to ask for a handout but not be interested in real help.

Sometimes I wish I could lay aside my role, lay aside all the rules, and take a few guys out coffee.

As a human.
As a fellow sojourner.
As a dad. 
As a husband.
As a father.
As a fellow townsman.
Man to man.

Because I see them hurting.
Because they are hurting others.

So, here’s a shout out to all the men I don’t know but I get to observe (although, you probably aren't reading this).

Not the ones trying hard, loving others, giving themselves away, being humble, working hard, investing in their community, and loving their families. I’m talking to the other ones.

Listen up only if it applies to you.

Quit whining.
Quit being self-absorbed.
Kill your Facebook account until you learn responsible communication.
Put on your big boy pants.
Put down the video games.
Grow up.
Start paying attention to your family.
Get a job.
Don’t tell me there are no jobs. You just don’t want that one.
Swallow your pride.
Keep it in your pants.
You’re a bona fide jerk. Only bona fide means genuine. You are not.
No one owes you anything.
Get your poop in a group.
Make real friends.
Allow people to edit your life.
Quit being lazy.
Your wife deserves something better but she’s stuck with you. Rise up.
Go find your balls. You may think you have them. But you don’t.
Break that habit.
Treat her right. That’s someone’s daughter.
There’s a reason everyone hates being around you.
Your adolescence should have ended 20 years ago.
Quit being comfortable with living off the government.
I’ve heard your story 100 times. Now shut up and do something about it.
Follow through.
Break up with your girlfriend.
Quit going to the strip clubs. Use that money to buy food for your family.
No one hears you crying wolf anymore.
No one “did this” to you. Except you.
Pay back the money you borrowed (stole) from your friend.
There is a life worth living.
The people around you are valuable.
There is such thing as hope.
As joy.

I wish it were this easy.

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