Could You Take Your Pastor?

Could You Take Your Pastor?

I recall an argument in my freshman year in college, in which a fellow-student who was much larger than I was decided to end the debate by saying, “I think I’ll just beat you up!” He could have too. I wouldn’t have stood a chance. So obviously he was right.

Well, I’ve found a second thing today that I would like to say isn’t true, but there it is. Via Locusts and Honey and Ignite I found this article by [tag]Mark Driscoll[/tag]. Now I must confess Driscoll has been dropping lower on my favorite list after his comments on the ESV which I discussed here.

But in the referenced post Driscoll discusses his love of mixed martial arts. Now I’m not going to attack people for the sports they watch. I’m a baseball fan myself, even more so than usual because my stepson John Webb is a pitcher (AAA this year though he has some big league time). I get illustrations for spiritual things from baseball. Sometimes I even get some from football. I don’t generally watch boxing. I’m probably not “manly” enough in Driscoll’s world.

Then he concludes thus:

Because I am a Christian pastor I now need to find something that connects all of this to being a Christian. So, I’ll just say that while young men are watching tough men compete, the reason they don’t go to most churches is because they could take the pastor and can’t respect a guy in a lemon-yellow sweater, sipping decaf and talking about his feelings.

Well, let me suggest something just as blunt: If you determine whether someone is worth listening to based on whether you could take him in a fight, if you despise someone because they wear a lemon-yellow sweater, sip decaf, or talk about their feelings, then you need to seriously reexamine both your intellectual and your spiritual life.


12 thoughts on “Could You Take Your Pastor?

  1. Henry, I’m with Driscoll on this one. It is indeed wrong to “despise someone because they wear a lemon-yellow sweater, sip decaf, or talk about their feelings”. But the fact remains that such people are a turn-off to most men, especially unbelievers, who might wander into a church or any other venue with such a pastor. I agree that the men who are turned off “need to seriously reexamine … [their] spiritual life”, and perhaps they agree and that is why they have come to a church. But they are not going to do so if they are turned off straight away. So let’s avoid setting up barriers to people coming to Christ. To reach the average man, for better or for worse, you need real non-quiche-eating men. Actually that’s probably true to reach the average woman as well. Or of course, for both groups, culturally appropriate women. So let’s have more of these men and women in the church.

    My own pastor, by the way, is a big man who not many people would want to take on if debate turned into fight!

  2. Ah, something on which we can disagree with vigor!

    I’m wondering how far you’d take this. How masculine does someone have to be to be accepted into the ministry? Though I’m not a pastor, I do preach occasionally. Should we consider the number of men who will be driven off because I couldn’t take them in a fight?

    On the other hand should I talk about the number of more intellectual people who are turned off by the heavy masculinity (and intellectual weakness) of Driscoll’s style?

    I’m just not sure what the position is of these “real no-quiche-eating men.”

  3. Honestly? I think manly-men feel threatened by tea-drinking pastors. They see a great difference and believe that they will be marginalized because they do not “fit in” or something. However (hopefully!) a godly pastor would be able to APPRECIATE the different strengths, abilities, and experiences that different people have, rather than dismissing them.

    People should not need to be among other people who are just like them in order to feel welcome. It’s easiest that way, but as Christians we should be looking for ways to welcome those who are different from us, too.

  4. I see light in both Peter’s comment in yours, even though I’m challenging his. A diversity of people in the church helps reach a diversity of people outside. The problem is that when someone refers to wearing “a lemon-yellow sweater, sipping decaf and talking about his feelings” in a derogatory sense, I’m not amused. I looked down at my lemon-yellow shirt (not sweater), promptly spilled something on it and had to go change. I joked with my wife later in the evening that after that happened I had a strong urge to go talk about my feelings!

    But in my observation, the heavily masculine pastors attract some and drive others away, and the same is true of more “spiritual” and more “intellectual” pastors. A large church near us is growing rapidly, buying new buildings and so forth, under a hyper-intellectual pastor and associate.

    My own pastor would fit the “manly man” image quite well, while I would not. At the same time, some of my strongest supporters, as in board members for Pacesetters Bible School, are the sort you would think might complain about lemon-yellow sweaters. One of these folks regularly invites me into his home where he shows me his gun collection and talks about hunting. I listen, but I’m not going out hunting. He’s still good people!

    Summary: Diversity is good, and we don’t have to be alike in order to work together and respect one another.

  5. Well, well. I hardly ever comment here, but this subject brought me out of hiding. As a matter of fact, I’ve read it (and the comments) three times and each time it pissed me off more.
    Now, I understand and will fully acknowledge that I am not the target audience to which Driscoll was referring. (younger men) I am not even a “manly female”; I love the color pink, pedicures, and cute shoes. So, in truth I don’t know what goes on in the male brain….. nor do I understand the desire to beat anyone up or the need for male prowess. However, growing up in a youth group that had a 3:1 male to female ratio, I do have lots of very close male friends. I have watched them closely over the years and I have noticed several things. Sure, they appreciated those role models who could handle themselves on the court, but when the rubber met the road, when the all hell broke loose in their lives, they simply wanted someone there who they knew loved and cared about them. I noticed several older guys who were not great at sports, but they still played (and even got picked on sometimes), they gave of their time and of themselves just to have a relationship with these teenagers and college students. In the end, it seemed to me that those guys knew that, and the fact that they truly cared spoke louder than if they were muscle-blessed.

    Now to my second point. Why did he only address what might turn off younger men? What about how a pastor who’s a “man’s man” might affect younger women? Seriously….MOST of the larger “I can take you out” men I have ever known, Christian or not, have in one way or another turned out to be self-absorbed jerks. I don’t have a long lifetime of experience to draw from, but it has been my experience. Why would I want someone like that as my pastor? I might appreciate and respect someone who takes the time and effort to stay physically fit, but I don’t see why I would be drawn in by a hulking muscle-bound figure. And honestly, I like lemon yellow, there are lots of men that look super sexy in that color.

    Hypothetically, what if I decided to become a pastor? Would the same conditions apply to me? Maybe I should become the quintessential female, so I would be attractive to young women coming to church. But according to what is idolized by most young women, I would have to become a half-starved stick with breast implants and botox-filled lips. That would be ridiculous! How shallow! I believe that humanity was meant to be anything but shallow. I think our young men and women are full of depth, a buried treasure if you will. Saying that physical prowess is the thing that draws in young men, makes those young men appear seriously shallow. I still believe there is more that goes on in the minds of men besides beer, women, sleep, and naval lint. I hope those that are my age look for more in a pastor than if he can take them out.

  6. My pastor could definitely take me out, but I could easily out run him! But that is not what connected me to this particular church, I think it is more his overall presentation style and the ease with which he is able to impart spiritual wisdom using contemporary and culturally appropriate examples. I would agree with Erin that the logical conclusion of the argument is not one we would want. Mr Rodgers was quite successful and he wore sweaters and talked about feelings! I think men my age and younger (mid-20’s) want to have teaching that engages them and takes them outside of the Bible for Biblical application. If you can do that in a tweed sweater-vest it might just work!
    But ultimately we are each different and have different learning styles, ways of engagement, and preferences. If our masculine stereotype pastor preached at a liturgical/hymn singing church that could be as much of a turn-off as anything else for some. It is personal style and I don’t think we can say that any one “type” of person should become a preacher.

  7. I think underlying the “manly-man” notion of the way pastors ought to be are unexamined notions of gender and sexuality. It comes on the heels of a “new” movement to image Jesus as uber masculine, powerful and dominant. (See American Jesus by Prothero). It is just warmed over heterosexism.

  8. Henry, it wasn’t by any chance decaf coffee you spilled on your lemon-yellow shirt, was it?

    Sorry to be slow replying, I was busy over the weekend. Now I agree with you that diversity is good. And I certainly wouldn’t disqualify anyone from the pastorate because of their deficient manliness (or masculinity) or bad dress sense. Anyway lemon-yellow might be just what is needed in Florida.

    The problem I have is that too many pastors are a bit too like this stereotype and continue to dress and preach like that even when that is not appropriate to the audience. If they want to connect with very many, not all, men, they need to dress rather differently and not just talk about feelings. It is a matter of being all things to all men (and women), and not despising any of them.

    Meanwhile, are you despising Driscoll because of “the heavy masculinity (and intellectual weakness) of [his] style”? Why are you suggesting that a pastor cannot be a heavyweight both in manliness and intellectually? My pastor more or less both (and in pounds!), and that is great.

  9. Meanwhile, are you despising Driscoll because of “the heavy masculinity (and intellectual weakness) of [his] style”? Why are you suggesting that a pastor cannot be a heavyweight both in manliness and intellectually? My pastor more or less both (and in pounds!), and that is great.

    Well, if I hadn’t intentionally worded it that way to generate discussion, since I think my wording was an adequate mirror to his comment about lemon-yellow sweaters, I’d say I was over the top.

    No, I don’t despise the manly-man sort of pastor, and I actually know many personally who are both powerful intellectually and physically.

    But I don’t see Driscoll looking for that, and I don’t see a serious engagement with ideas in his writing. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong on that point.

  10. Thanks for this reply. I added my own today at Irenic Thoughts with the gist of it being:

    So I don’t know if this is a more highly evolved answer, but I guess I am suggesting is that guys don’t tend to look for a pastor who can blacken their eye or bloody their nose, but someone with whom they wouldn’t mind drinking a beverage of choice with while watching The Ultimate Fighter. If you think, I’m right, leave a comment. If you think I’m wrong, meet me on the playground after school and we’ll settle this thing there and then.

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