If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless, and he deceives himself.” James 1:26
It wasn’t what it seemed. The life of a pastor is, well, interesting. In fact, the life of the pastor’s family is interesting. You could say that we live in a glass house and that would be so true. I remember when we lived in a parsonage (that’s a house provided by the church) and we had a wood burning stove. It was difficult to control the heat so often we would leave the front door open to allow some cooler air in. There was a sweet (and she really was) older lady who attended our church and she was very concerned that we had our door open. She would call saying, “Judy, do you know that your front door is open?” Of course we did, but she felt it was her civil and religious duty to make sure we were stewards of our electricity.
When we moved to Cobden, Illinois our girls were very young…five and four. Back in those days during worship, the pastor had a big chair where he was to sit on the stage. I don’t know if we did it that way to make the pastor seem important or so everyone could stare at him. It was just the way we did it. Now here is what was interesting. While I was sitting on the stage looking at everyone and everyone was looking at me, Judy was playing the piano. Many pastors are blessed with musically talented wives and I certainly was one of them. Now don’t miss this. I am on the stage and Judy was at the piano. Who do you suppose was watching the girls? Well, that would be no one. And you know, girls will be girls.
Like so many siblings, the girls loved to pick at one another. It was always nothing serious…just enough to make mom and dad nervous. Well, that Sunday was one of those days. They were being little girls and poking and pinching each other. They were giggling enough to cause a bit of disturbance and to catch their mother’s eye. Judy gave them “the look”. Now every married man knows about “the look”. Personally, I would rather stare down a cobra than face “the look”. The problem was, while Judy was looking…they were not. They were busy poking and pinching. You might wonder what I was doing. I was sitting on the stage trying to ignore the two little girls on the first or second row. I was pretty good at it, too. However, there was no ignoring the lady at the piano.
When they didn’t get the message, Judy made sure I did. I don’t know if it was “the look” or smoke signals coming from behind the piano, but I got the message loud and clear. Handle it. As much as I didn’t like sitting on the stage on the throne, I preferred that to handling the girls in public. I rose from the throne and walked straight to the girls. I took them by the hand and as casually as possible led them out the side door of the sanctuary. Now there is one thing that every pastor has to remember whether he is going to the restroom or taking his kids out to have a come to Jesus meeting. Turn your microphone off. I didn’t.
As the door closes behind us, Becca, our oldest, and in her sweetest five year old voice says, “Daddy, please don’t hit us.” Now, pause, because I know in this world the idea of hitting a child conjures up all kind of bad things. If there was any hitting it was only going to be a gentle swat on the bottom. Period. I knew that and the girls knew that. Thanks to my not turning my microphone off—everyone in the sanctuary knew it too. You can probably imagine that sweet little voice coming over the speakers. There were no tears between the three of us but there were plenty of tears in the sanctuary. No, they weren’t grieving for those precious little girls—they were fine. They were tears from laughing so hard. We walked back into the sanctuary and every person was either rolling on the floor or trying to stay in their seat. It was a Hallmark moment.
Yup…we live in a glass house for sure. Even worse, I still had to stand up and preach later in the service. Amazingly, somehow, we made it through. It is things like that which make our relationship with the families we serve so special. I have deeply appreciated that through the years. Anyone who knows the Taylor tribe knows that we are unapologetically human. If you are looking for a perfect, plastic pastor family…well, you won’t find it with us. I’ve often said that people can handle Christians who make mistakes…they get that. What they can’t handle is when we act like we are perfect and better than they are. Truth is we are neither.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, said if anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself. Well, spoken, James. In fact, we could probably put several actions in place of controlling our tongue and come to the same conclusion. I am always so grateful that God can handle our imperfections. He never regrets inviting us into His family but He does desire for us to be honest and real…and so does everyone else. Go ahead, take off the mask and just be you. You can rest assured that His unconditional love will still be there…even when you leave your microphone on. And, if you do, don’t worry, He’s got this.