Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Taking Care of Your Fornicatin' Self

I stood in the grungy little office of the motorcycle shop, as the proprietor went over what they'd done to get my bike back up and running.

The owner and chief wrench at that shop mostly builds bare-knuckled Harley and Triumph custom ratbikes, but he used to race Gixxers, so he knows my Suzuki like the back of his dirty, tatted hand.  He was sharing the diagnosis with the eagerness of a boy describing a favorite game.  It was a complex issue, involving water, ethanol-based fuel, and the degradation of plastic components in multi-stage valves in the fuel injection system.   I followed along, sort of, nodding assent and dropping comments that I hoped didn't make me seem too blitheringly incompetent.

The prognosis wasn't great.  It'd run like a top, unless I rode it hard again through a major rainstorm.  Then, I'd be looking at the same problem again.  Drat.  Guess I'll have to change my habit of riding through huge thunderstorms and blizzards.  Rule of thumb: if the ride looks to be so epic and technical as to be worthy of a subsequent blog post, wait it out.  Sigh.

We kept chatting for a while, and as we walked to the back lot to snag my bike, he began playfully chatting about his neighbor, a pastor.

He knows I'm a pastor, and grew up in the area around my church.

He also has a vocabulary that is entirely in keeping with a hole-in-the-wall motorcycle shop that's sited between a "smoking and vaping accessories" store and an adult novelties emporium.   Hey, a good, honest mechanic is a good, honest mechanic.

So on he went, about this pastor he knew.

"Yeah, like, I've got this neighbor who's a pastor.  Nice guy, but man, his house is a [fornicating] [excrement] hole. A total [fornicating] embarrassment.  He never mows.  Never cleans.  Leaves his [stuff] all over the [fornicating] yard.  Works so much, it's like he doesn't even [fornicating] live there.   I see the light of his TV on late at night, but he ain't never around."

I nodded at the concept conveyed through the thicket of reflexive profanity.  Yeah, pastors are often terrible at taking care of themselves, I said.  They get so caught up in their churches, they forget to do the basics for themselves.  Health gets neglected.  Spouses are neglected.  Homes are a shambles.

"You got that right," he continued, as he wheeled the Suzuki over to me.  "Only time that [fornicating] house gets cleaned up is when his whole church shows up to clean it.  Grass up to here, total mess, and then, bam, there's like fifty of the [fornicators] all over the [fornicating] place.  I'm, like, [fornicate], dude, take care of your own [stuff].  How can you be a [lovemaking] pastor and be telling people how to live better [lovemaking] lives if you can't even handle your own basic [stuff]?"

Generally, I'd pose that truth with slightly less pungent language, but it's a truth nonetheless.  That peculiar pattern of mutual dependency between a congregation that demands every waking moment of a pastor and a pastor whose ego enables it?  It's unhealthy.

And it's not just unhealthy for both parties involved.

It's the enemy of evangelism.  If you're so consumed by the busyness of professional ministratalia that you can't attend to family, can't manage your life and health, can't keep your [stuff] together?  Other people will notice this, meaning, the human beings who aren't part of that codependent dyad of your ego and the unrealistic expectations of your community.

They will look at how the fruits of your faith are made manifest in your life, and say, huh.  I guess there's no point in being part of that.  I guess that makes no difference at all.

And that, brothers and sisters, would be a [fornicating] terrible thing.