Pastor's Kids Can Smell Hypocrisy A Denomination Away

One year I spent over half my school
shopping money on this jacket.
Who needs undergarments and socks?
Teaching at a low income school district for five plus years has taught me a number of things about human beings, but it has also made even more grateful for the life I was given by my parents.  My parents, unlike many of my students, were always creative with the income coming in, and the necessities going out.  A few times we were downright poor, and other times the word "struggling" would probably fit the bill, however, we as kids never really felt disadvantaged. Not that you'd ever see me with an iPhone growing up, though. The most valuable item my parents bought me year in, year out, was a $40 pair of sneakers (that had to last me the whole year).

Teaching us the value of a dollar was on of their great parenting successes. They were open about most things in their lives, but they never made us feel the pressure of their finances. No matter how much my brother and I whined and cried about needing the G.I.joe Aircraft-carrier, because 
Seeing this photo kind of makes me want the Aircraft
Carrier all over again.  But more, I want to hang out
 with those cool 80s rich kids.  
other kids at our private school had it, they found a way to impart to us that is wasn't necessary (without saying we were acting like spoiled brats or saying they didn't have the money for it). Instead they let us pick out one $3.00 figure the three times a year we were lucky to go to Toys 'R Us.  

"But wait?  Didn't you say you wen't to a private school?  You couldn't be too poor?"  

Oh.  That's because we got free tuition.  You see, I am a PK.  A pastor's kid.  And sometimes these private schools offer free or reduced tuition to ministers, priests (well, hopefully not priests), pastors, etc. of the local area. A pastor's salary isn't much, so my family took advantage of the few perks of being in the ministry, like a private education.  

"Making non-Dutch
kids feel like jerks
since 1910."  
I attended two different private schools for five total years of my life.  A quick comparison of private vs. public schools: private schools gave me a slightly better education (many reasons behind that), the kids at the private schools were generally some of the worst human beings alive, but their in-class behavior was generally better (more respectful of authority).  

Which, not coincidentally, is not unlike their adult counterparts in the church.  

Unlike many PKs, none of my three siblings or I had crazy streaks where we became Barabbas, and tore up the town in our rebellion.  Oh sure, we all had a moment or two, but PKs are notorious for being hellions.  None of us went down that road, and that's a testament to my parents and their parenting.  

Unlike many pastor's kids, there wasn't a hypocrisy around what my father did on Sundays and what he did every other day of the week. You see, while their finances were unknown to us, they were very open with the realities of the church. We were shielded, but aware of, the wolves in sheep's clothing who often held the titles of deacon, or elder, or Senior Pastor inside the church. I've seen some very real, unexplainable supernatural events in a lifetime of faith, and I've seen some very real, unexplainable mendacity and backstabbing in the church.  

"Doc, I think I have a depth perception issue."
The church, like anywhere else, is full of humans.  And to error is human. For some reason we have this theory that when men of God mess up, they are hypocrites, but when an average person does it, they are just being human (and/or sinning).  Conversely, are criminals not hypocrites when they help old people across the road?  

Anyway, growing up in different churches, where my father was esteemed (until it was time to leave), gave me a clear understanding of people, who will love you when times are good, and curse you for the pebble in their shoe. 

I personally have witnessed "men of God," swearing, throwing punches at, and cursing the name of my father. I've also witnessed Hell's Angels bikers weeping on the ground and later hugging my father.  I've seen drug addicts kick the habit in a second. People with maladies healed miraculously, and people get resources they desperately needed.   

And I've seen it all not work. I've seen prayer not succeed. People succumb to disease, despite believers rallying on their side. I went to the hospital today to see a great man of God, Dwight Basom, who wasn't supposed to recover from a bad bout of pneumonia . I called him Grandpa my whole life, as a sign of respect to his beautiful soul.  But I was too late.  He died hours before we got there. My family played 70's worship music at his bedside two nights before, which I heard he really enjoyed.  I, however, didn't get to say goodbye.  

That's reality. Sometimes good people die. My family didn't shield me from death, and sinful nature, and the garbage of people running (and sometimes ruining) the church.  I've seen church splits--been on the inside, and they are nasty affairs.  Like watching a divorced couple divide up the children. I've seen people at their best on their wedding day, and heard them screaming at each other in marriage counseling sessions (through the walls of our home) days before their divorce goes through.  I've seen people lose faith, and seen people find themselves in the church.  I've seen it all.  

And I think it has made me a better person. A better Christian. I don't put my faith in people like ministers, or the worship team, or the church building, or some political ideology or doctrine. I was taught to put my faith in God. And He has done amazing things in my life, and to many people around me,  even if some of the people I know claiming to be followers have done terrible things in his name (including myself at different times). 

A teacher, like a minister, gets to see people at their best and worst. Kids seek our advice on any number of topics and turmoils, and then usually do the opposite of what we say. Then they come back crying about it. It's a dirty business. People. Dealing with people. I sometimes wish I could do some sort of data analysis for the CIA, and never have to interact with humans again.  But not really.  I was raised and called to deal with people.  

If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em -- Cannibals and cake eaters
So I train miniature humans; teenagers--sinners and saints, hypocrites and neophytes, wise men and weirdoes, and hope they make good decisions, so I don't have to deal with the aftermath. Which is probably how my father felt at all those churches he pastored. 

But I'm glad my dad didn't shield me from the dirty side of Christianity, with all its broken human-being pieces, because it has given me a clearer understanding of our fallen nature. And a closer reliance to He who is not human, and hence, perfect.    

11 comments:

  1. Thanks Chris for talking about one subject I just can't bring myself to try. I greatly appreciate your candor and personal experience.

    I've lost much of my faith in organized anything, including religion. That's not to say I don't believe in God, I've seen what He's (she and/or it, whatever you prefer) done in my own life.

    I do see hypocrisy, although it's not limited to religion. What frustrates me are the folks that claim moral high ground and their high ground is really just a hill of quick sand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "moral high ground and their high ground is really just a hill of quick sand."--good line. Yes, hypocrisy is everywhere. When performance is valued over ethics, $#!+ happens. And America is a performance based country.

      Delete
  2. Fantastic blog. Honest and uplifting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, thanks for a view from the inside, so to speak. Sounds like you had a wonderful dad. I have my issues with the church, but my relationship with God is stronger than ever. We are not perfect, and I take everything on a case-by-case basis now, trying to love everyone through their maladies and strife. Going through hell myself, with little support from the church, made me stronger, and that has been a blessing - teaching me to rely on my faith, on God, not on the people who often mess up and hurt people, even with good intentions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the church overall owes a lot of people an apology. It's really sad when multiple, multiple people i know under 40 have been hurt or ignored by the church. I'm sorry nobody was there for you. But I'm glad you are strong now in your faith.

      ^This lady has a fantastic blog as well. Go check it out. Random and funny and with an original voice. http://thecatladysings.com/

      Delete
  4. Great blog, Chris! The story of my parent's parenting and all of my sibling's experiences growing up are almost the same with a few minor differences. It truly is rare for PK's to end up well off spiritually. We are so blessed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, any kind of ministry is a stressful calling, however, the fact that our parents could do these works and also parent successfully, means there was a lot of truth to what they were preaching, so to say. Hopefully my children will experience that balance as well.

      Delete
  5. Stopping by for the first time! Very well said. Those that are called to help people, have a much broader insight into the human dynamic, and you, even more so, growing up as a PK. Your public/private school comparison really rang true for me. I mostly have public school background, as I attended public schools my whole life, and grew up to teach in a low-income public school for four years, though budget cuts and layoffs landed me subbing this past school year. I mostly sub for a public school district, but I did have the opportunity to sub at a private school, and you are absolutely right! Those kids have mad respect for authority! They were the easiest to sub by far! And then I remember stories my fiancé told me about his upbringing in private schools and how horrible the other kids were. I was laughing out loud while reading that part in your blog. That dichotomy is hilarious to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I have some friends who teach at private schools, and while their behavior problems aren't as obvious, the kids can be snarky and mean spirited towards teachers and other "lesser" students. At least in a poverty district the kids don't mock each other's clothes or hair styles (unless they are really bad).

      Budget cuts are horrible. I've been hired and laid off four different times by the same district. Is it me? Or is it the lack of money?

      Delete
  6. Hi Chris, I stopped by to read your story about Lily (fantastic testimony of life and love) and started poking around. My maiden name was Theresa Johnson (Jack and Ruth's daughter) and I knew your family at Laurel. You probably won't remember me as I'm quite a bit older than you. Dwight and Joan Basom lived in the parsonage with my folks and I lived there at the same time. I'm sad to hear he passed but glad your family could be with him. My Hubby teaches jr high in the inner city. Great post and I think you quite accurately described the inside of a church split like a nasty divorce. Obviously God has used these experiences as a Romans 8:28+ thing in your life. (and had to chuckle at what you wrote under the LCS emblem!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I remember you. More for the pictures on the wall, than from real life. We accidentally got snowed in with your parents for a whole week, and I got to know your house really well. I have a lot of respect for your parents.

      And make sure your husband gets many vacations. Middle school in an affluent area is difficult enough, but in poverty areas or inner cities...mental breakdowns are so easy to be had...As a student at LCS, I nearly had a breakdown (they did not like my surname there).

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete