There's one thing about pastoring that I had almost forgotten about, but I have faced in the last few days. It's the weird reaction that people have when they find out you are a pastor. Typically, they get an odd look on their face, and get really quiet. It's like they think I'm judging them, or waiting for them to do something that I can condemn them for. Or, maybe they are expecting me to hold them down and evangelize them.
I had the over-the-phone equivalent tonight. I called up someone who goes to our group, just to see how he was doing. I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to make sure that he and his family were OK.
He was obviously uncomfortable. He was evasive, short, and sounded like he would rather be doing anything but talking to me. And I wasn't being harsh or judgmental. I was just trying to express some concern for my brother. I got the feeling that he felt like I was going to do something to him. (What, I have no idea.)
It's an odd situation for me, because I don't view people through my agenda to grow "my" church. In other words, I don't see the people around me as prospects, or potential Sunday School teachers. They're just people like me. But the title of "Pastor" puts an immediate barrier between me and some other people.
It reminded me that pastors can get lonely in their position. I don't want that to happen to me and my family. I am going to redouble my resolve to be as real, honest, and open as I can be. If being a pastor sets up barriers, I'm going to do everything I can to bust through them...