Many Things, Mostly Half-Serious

I caught Pastor Mike on the drive back from Birmingham where he’d been performing a wedding. “Your dog is fine,” I said over the phone. “But there’s one thing.”

I’d been checking on his dog — a full member of the Miller family, if I’m any judge — while my pastor and his family were out of town for 36 hours. I’d looked in on her Friday evening on my way to a revival meeting where I was the preacher, and then let her in the house that night on my way home. Saturday morning, I’d let her outside for a bit — it looked like rain, so she would stay inside today — and put food in her bowl. I let her visit the back yard again at noon and one final time before leaving for the evening revival service. She’s a lovely dog (golden retriever, I think) and soaked up all the attention I gave her.

“The problem,” I told Pastor Mike, “is that the food I put out for her this morning is untouched.” He sighed, “I know. She’s depressed.” He added that she had been depressed the last few days while Mike’s wife Terri has been in another state with their oldest son who was having surgery. Mike said, “It’s really Terri’s dog and they’re missing each other.”

The dog is depressed and so doesn’t eat. How human is that?

I’ve never had a house-dog, so the subtleties of canine ownership eludes me. My sister Carolyn, however, knows all there is to know on the subject.

A number of years back, I was visiting senior adults with one of our deacons. As we approached one house in particular, he said, “Be careful of the dog, Pastor. He’s pretty ferocious.”

As we walked through the gate into the yard, I spotted a skinny little mutt cowering under a shrub. Surely that couldn’t be the monster he warned me about.

Inside, the lady of the house said, “Did you see my dog outside? The poor thing got all his hair cut off and he just hasn’t felt good about himself ever since.”

So humanlike.

Sometimes when I’m drawing children, in order to provoke a smile, I’ll ask, “Are you married?” and when they say, “No,” I ask, “Why not?” The conversations are often funny.

A five-year-old boy was posing for me. When I asked if he was married, he quickly said, “No, but I’m thinking about it!” His dad almost had a heart attack.

My dentist’s wife brought their two small sons into the office. I ran out to the car for my sketch pad and drew them. As the 3-year-old posed, I asked him, “Are you married?” The question did not work with him. He clearly had no idea what I was talking about. But when his 5 year old brother sat before me, before I could utter a word, he solemnly said, “I’m not married either.” It broke me up.

Saturday night before the revival service at FBC-Belle Chasse, a number of children were gathered around to watch me sketching them. When I asked the 6-year-old girl if she was married, two 8-year-olds standing next to her, answered for her. “No.” I ignored them and asked the little one, “Why aren’t you married?” One of the older girls quickly answered, “She hasn’t found the right man yet.” The other hastened to add, “She keeps breaking up with her men.”

Kids. Don’t you love ’em.

These days my wife and I are eating cuties and cherubs. “Cuties” are the California mandarin oranges and “cherubs” the small salad tomatoes. Some creative person decided to name them this way, I suppose.

For my money, the real cuties and cherubs in our midst are those preschoolers all around us.

See if you can help me with this. Pastors, particularly, give us your suggestion for the number one “foolish, self-destructive thing that pastors do.” Bear in mind, I’m a preacher and I’m talking about my own group. We’re not outsiders throwing rocks; we’re family members talking about ourselves.

This is an old list of mine I found floating around, and decided to share with you.


10. Cheat on studying the bible for sermons. Sermon programs will offer “52 sermons for only $139.00.” Sermon idea books say “looking for snappy ideas? A catchy verse?”

9. Neglect his family to work on his ministry. And ends up losing both.

8. Neglect his church to lust after other churches. The best way to move to a better or bigger (sorry for those words; you know what I mean) is to do a good job where you are. Bloom where you are planted.

7. Not guard his inner, private life. Your mind is the reservoir out of which all your ministry flows.

6. Take a church member into his confidence in saying negative things about others.

5. Flirt.

4. Put negative comments in letters.

3. Hold back important information from pastor search committees. Once the pastor is on the field and the committee members find out what they did not know, they often feel betrayed.

2. Love money too much.

1. And what is number one? Leave a comment at the end and give us your suggestion for the most foolish, self-destructive thing pastors do.

10 thoughts on “Many Things, Mostly Half-Serious

  1. How about this for number one:

    Disregarding or disrespecting his predecessor and acting like the church never did or acheived anything until the day he arrived in the pulpit. It never hurts to honor the one who went before. His supporters will love you for it and his detractors will just figure you don’t know the whole story and they’ll let it go. They’ll recognize that you have class, though.

  2. Dare to stand in the pulpit, betraying his calling, his congregation, and His Lord by preaching any sermon without using the Bible for the text!

  3. My Brittany Spaniel got a ‘hair cut’, well more like her summer shave, this week. She acts just like a woman with a new ‘do’, she is so excited. My Bible Study LSU girls were excited, too. They said, Look, Belle has had a makeover!

    Yes, dogs, can be very human like!

  4. 1. Thinking that the congregtion thinks it okay if the pastor is unprepared on Sunday morning – just every once in a while.

  5. Over the past 25+ years as a pastor, I’ve counseled numerous pastors against the idea of “having a vote of confidence.” Sadly, the vote was held to the demise of most of those pastors. Stupid is as stupid does.

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