Out of the Mouths of Barbers

We are grateful that our new church has a housing allowance, but we have never bought a house before and had no clue of the hoops that one has to maneuver to make it to closing. How many more copies of this or that will be needed? I pray that we’re near the finish line, but I imagine there’s more to be done. It would have been helpful to know NOT to buy furniture ahead of the move. It depletes your liquid assets that the mortgage company wants to measure, and that’s not a plus to your credibility as a buyer.

I never knew how much of a blessing parsonages are to our clergy deployment system. You move out and move in, food is waiting, unpacking helpers are on hand, and you’re not distracted by much more than whether or not your bedspreads match the existing window treatments. For the first time in my ministry I’ll be without an S/PPRC or Parsonage Committee person to call when something breaks. I’ll be a committee of one whose handyman skills are usually reserved for mission trips. We are grateful for a chance to buy our own home. My prayer is that Cindy and I won’t be too frazzled before we get there.

Therefore, I’m more than a little stressed right now while I’m waiting for the money that I’m borrowing from my 403B to clear the bank so I can prove to the mortgage company that I’m a  good risk. I’m also weary from finishing up appointment-making as a District Superintendent. On top of all this I’m putting out the usual fires that come from “buyer’s remorse” as churches that didn’t ask for their pastors to move want them to move now and it’s too late!

I need to remember what I told a stressed out pastor last night: “You are not responsible for your people; you are responsible to them.” There’s a huge difference between feeling responsible FOR everyone and everything, and being responsible TO others by doing the best that you can and letting the rest go. I want to be like the non-anxious presence of Jesus when he stood before Pilate, secure in who I am and not caught up in someone else’s hurricane.

I just went to get a haircut and the person tending to my very limited strands asked, “How are you today?” I started on my tale of mortgage banking, a daughter who’s had brain surgery, concern over this detail or that one ad infinitum until she simply asked, “Are you religious?” What a great segue into a spiritual discussion with a stressed out dude. It was the best haircut I ever had, and it wasn’t at all about my hair! I never told her I was a pastor, but I did tell her I believe in Jesus. She wasn’t judgmental in the least about why I didn’t seem to be acting like I actually BELIEVE in Jesus. She just simply said what I’ve heard my dear wife say over and over again, “Turn your worries into prayers.”

Goodness, how much better I felt after that haircut! Everything is going to be alright. Jesus is my Rock and Redeemer. I need to do what I am supposed to do and not freak out if the stuff hitting the fan isn’t evenly distributed. You know how there seem to be some people who have a Teflon coating and trouble never sticks to them. Well, I’m one of those who are like Velcro. Everything sticks! Lately I have looked and felt like that old baking sheet we received when we got married almost 39 years ago – bent, rippled, warped, and multi-colored from stains and grime. It might be time for a new baking sheet!

The barber asking, “Are you religious?” has been my chance at a fresh start today. I am going to redouble, triple, and quadruple spiritual disciplines that have been too quickly evaporated by and overwhelmed by the flood of urgent things. If I do believe in Jesus and life is throwing junk at me then I better spend as much or more time talking to Jesus and yielding moment by moment to God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, here’s to fresh starts with the Lord! Plus my ace in the hole is that tomorrow morning I am “getting out of Dodge” with my Bible, fishing tackle, camping gear, chess set, and a good friend to spend a couple of nights listening to the tranquil sounds of a waterfall on the New River in Western North Carolina. In the midst of night after night of Introductory Visits for new pastors, here’s my first chance in months to get away and let the Lord refresh me and I’m taking it!

I’ll be back in time to thank Cindy for being the best Mom I’ve ever seen, and preach a Mother’s Day sermon for one of my convalescing clergy. Then next Monday I’m going to my new appointment and acclimate to things. I will be there for staff and worship meetings, and spend one-on-one time with each person. I’m going to ask them two questions: “What is ___________UMC known for in the ____________ community?” and “What are you known for in ___________ UMC?” I want to hear about each person’s passions and discern how I can facilitate shared ministry and teamwork. People can do so much more when they’re having fun and doing it together!

I am going to ask how each person finds renewal in Jesus, and here’s a question for all of us: “Who’s winning in your life: your worries or your faith?” If it’s our worries then let’s do something about it. As the old hymn goes, “I’m going to lay down my burdens, down by the riverside…” What about it? Feeling like Velcro collecting stress, a dented old pan whose shiny wore off a long time ago, then let me ask you: “Are you religious?” That barber asked a great question to put me back on track with Jesus. It’s a great question for you, too, and so is “Where is your riverside?” Give a listen to this quartet of barbers and turn your worries into prayers!

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14 thoughts on “Out of the Mouths of Barbers

  1. Tim, I can’t speak for your Annual Conference, but I can speak for the reality in mine. Any clergy who spends his/her life in a parsonage in Cal-Pac will never be able to afford to buy a house in which to retire, in Southern California. The median price for a 3-bedroom home in most of SoCal is over $600K.

    And yes, I can count: allowing pastors to get housing allowances and to buy their own homes, (including taking the financial risk thereon), means that the pastor will be the one who gets and keeps the capital gain on where s/he lives, not the local church. In the long run, it will be more expensive for the local church.

    At the same time, I’m sure that as a D.S, you have heard lots of horror stories from clergy or their spouses of living in a parsonage. (Like what happened to me in my student pastorate: I was in seminary during the week and only home on weekends. Friday night I locked the front door, not knowing that this was an uncommon action in this rural community. Early Saturday morning, the doorbell rang as I heard someone come in the screen door, walk across the porch, and try to open the door to the parsonage. My wife and I were in bed having sex–and we really didn’t want to have anyone walk in on us. But people in the church thought they had a right to walk into the parsonage, anytime they chose. I got chewed out for my audacity in locking the door!)

    1. Tom, Thanks for sharing and it sounds like the system in Cal-Pac is an absolute necessity, and yes, I have seen and heard parsonage horror stories. There is no perfect system – which is one of the reasons we need Jesus because there, in the words of my father, “Ain’t nothin’ original about original sin.” Peace,

      tim

      *From:* A Potter’s View [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* Wednesday, May 07, 2014 4:48 PM *To:* wtmcclendon@gmail.com *Subject:* [A Potter’s View] Comment: “Out of the Mouths of Barbers”

  2. Seems like we want to be in control and when we aren’t the anxiety and worry begins. In late August 2013 my mother’s health started to decline. Seemed like I was getting weekly calls or more often from one of my sisters about mom. We seemed to spend more time in PA than SC. I was constantly worrying about mom and I knew I couldn’t continue to carry all of this burden. It was then I had my, “are you religious” moment. I prayed that God would help me focus on the things I could handle, like making sure she got the care she needed, she had a safe place to live, etc. not was she going to have another seizure, another fall, or another day to live. It was after that prayer I felt more at peace especially when I couldn’t be there with her. That prayer carried me through to her passing in April. Your blog reminded me, “are you religious” is a question I need to ask myself more often!

    1. Mel, God bless you for your faithfulness and witness! I miss you!

      tim

      *From:* A Potter’s View [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] *Sent:* Wednesday, May 07, 2014 5:12 PM *To:* wtmcclendon@gmail.com *Subject:* [A Potter’s View] Comment: “Out of the Mouths of Barbers”

  3. What an especially great blog today, new friend. I hope you do get to relax and rejuvenate. Sounds idyllic! See you Monday.

    Midge Rothrock Sent from my iPad

    1. Midge, Thanks and looking forward to being with y’all! tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On May 7, 2014, at 6:02 PM, “A Potter's View” wrote:

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  4. Hope you enjoy the days in NC. Your blog on your mother brought back so many wonderful memories. God blessed me with God fearing parents – praise God! I hope the house closing will soon be finished for you. Thanks for your kind words on Mon. night. I will be in the position as long as you need me.

    Paul

    1. Paul, Thank you for your service and friendship! tim

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      On May 7, 2014, at 10:59 PM, “A Potter's View” wrote:

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  5. God bless you, Tim – we will miss you greatly in the Columbia District! God has used you in powerful ways and I know will continue to do so. Enjoy your relaxation !

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On May 8, 2014, at 7:37 PM, “A Potter's View” wrote:

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  6. While we wish our dear George happiness and fulfillment in his new position, we are at the same time excited about your coming to us. You are arriving at a great time in the life of St. John’s; and under your leadership I know we will continue to learn all we can about Christ, share all we know, and do all we can in His name. See you soon!

    Doris Hoffman

    1. God bless you and SJ! Looking forward with great excitement! tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On May 9, 2014, at 12:17 PM, “A Potter's View” wrote:

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  7. I am a member of the St. John’s flock. I’ve heard so many great things about you but I hadn’t heard that you’d be on site soon. Welcome to you and Cindy!

    1. Thank you, Jan! Official start date is June 25! Peace, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      On May 15, 2014, at 10:30 AM, “A Potter's View” wrote:

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