I’ve often heard pastors say that they are tempted to hide their vocation when talking with people in our culture. You meet someone and they ask you what you do, and you want to say something neutral like, “I’m a teacher.” The fear is that hearing “I’m a pastor” would cause many to cringe and pull back their hand like they just touched a leper. I get it…but, so far it hasn’t been my experience. For me, the “p” word has often led to great conversations. Many of my Christian friends have said that sometimes the hardest part about talking to people about Jesus is figuring up how to bring up the “God conversation.” For me, just telling people my vocation opens the door and those that are interested walk through.
For example, last week I was at the doctor’s office. I walk into the room and meet the doctor and we start talking.
Really cool guy. He asks me what I do, and I get to say, “I’m a pastor.”
He says, “Oh, I just finished having a religious debate. The older I get, the less I believe in God. And now I’m sitting here with a pastor!”
From there we had a great conversation about church, atheism, Jesus, Freud, grace. I told him I just picked up a book called Reason for God by Tim Keller and would love to read it with him if he was interested. He said he was. As I left, he handed me a copy of A Brief History of Disbelief – a PBS Special on Atheism. I can’t wait to talk with him about it.
He ran into Shainu at the hospital and said that he had already ordered the book and was looking forward to talking about it with me over coffee.
So, at least for now, I find the title “pastor” to be quite helpful in opening the door for good dialogue about faith.