Never Had I Ever Been So Thrilled to Hear the “S” Word

Sharon Monts-DeOca looks at stuffed rabbit she was given on her first Christmas: Jacksonville, Florida

When you tell someone that you are a pastor–or that you are going to be a pastor–the person usually responds in one of two ways:

1. By telling you all her problems.

-OR-

2. By frantically replaying the conversation in her head to see what curse words or incriminating details she let slip.

(Or, if the someone is a cute boy who has been flirting with you at work, he will immediately cease and desist, then act weird when you and your new boyfriend see him at symphony concerts, not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.)

Man and woman in bathing suits in a rowboat near Tacoma, Washington

There’s just something about Identified Religious Leaders (as we say in the seminary) that makes people a little uncomfortable.  When Mike and I were planning our wedding, the photographers and DJs and florists we met always asked us how we met (at church) and what we did (go to school to be a professor and a pastor).  Then, they responded like this:

1. “My grandma’s a Lutheran.  My girlfriend and I got married on a Wednesday because she was pregnant–whoops!–and we were in a hurry.”

-OR-

2. “Oh . . . well, we believe in God, but we don’t go to church much.  And sometimes we swear.”

(Or, charmingly: “Oh, I’m Lutheran, too!  I was on the call committee that chose our new pastor!  Do you know her?”  And I do.  And she is great.)

Guess what?  We hired the non-churchgoing, swearing photographers, and the pregnant-girlfriend-having DJ, and the Lutheran florist.  Because we were actually  interested in their skills as photographers and DJs and florists, not the state of their souls or the cleanliness of their language.

(Pro Tip: They were all awesome, and if I remembered their names I would recommend them to all you Milwaukee brides and grooms.)

American Magazine, cover, No Swimming Allowed

So, when the conversation at a recent church council meeting lingered overly long on the subject of the planter in front of the church building, and I told a story about a long council meeting at another church (lo these many years ago) where I heard all about what color the newsletter cover should be, I was delighted to hear these words come out of one council member’s mouth:

“And now you’re hearing about shit and dirt,” he said.

We all laughed.  No one looked at me nervously.  No one whispered, “Not in front of the pastor!”  It was no big thing.

Truly, I was thrilled.

Now, I’m not saying you should curse a blue streak at the next pastor you see.  But if you do meet a pastor, or have a pastor, try to relax and be yourself.

And if being yourself includes some colorful language, God can handle it, and so can the pastor.

Helene Madison in a bathing suit with Seattle Park Board President Simon Burnett, Seattle, Washington

What’s the best (or worst) reaction you’ve gotten when you tell someone who you are or what you do?

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15 Comments

Filed under Never Had I Ever

15 responses to “Never Had I Ever Been So Thrilled to Hear the “S” Word

  1. Susan Latzke

    Good to Know Maggie LOL!!!! Your the best !!

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  2. But, not my son… After stepping on a very sharp, make me wince Transformer, I told him, “Pick this crap off the floor.” He could not believe I had said a cuss word in front of him — told me off for a good 3 minutes. But, he picked his toys up. So, it was all good!

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  3. Laura Aase

    What a great post – you are so so witty! At the wedding I just did a week or so ago, I was sought out at the reception again and again for confession. I finally figured out that they won’t interrupt a pastor on the dance floor. 😉

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    • Ha! I’ll have to remember that for tomorrow night’s wedding. Although, people in this community seem generally less freaked out by the whole thing. I don’t know why–maybe there are just so many of us?

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  4. My husband is a chemist. I am, at the moment and for lack of a better term, a writer. We laugh fairly frequently about how “glamorous” these jobs seem to people. My husband works crazy hours and I earn little of nothing. Really, not glamorous at all!

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  5. When people hear I am doing stuff at church, well, they think twice and then I have to let loose with a little blue language.

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    • That’s good–let them know you’re a regular person who does stuff at church! And maybe they are worried that you will (gasp!) invite them to join you.

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  6. Two stories about the same priest…he was the priest at a teen retreat one year. His nametag said “Sir Peter” as he loved the Arthurian legends. As it was a county wide retreat, most of the kids didn’t know him. So they were all “Just being themselves”. Then one of the kids from his parish called him Father Peter. “Father Peter???!!!” You could tell that the rest of the kids were wracking their brains to remember what they had said in front of him.

    Same priest, dressed in a Renaissance King outfit (Garb), including sword. My friend and I passed him at a local Renaissance Faire and I said, “Hello, Father Peter.” He greeted me back and we went our own ways. My friend’s face and tone of voice, “FATHER Peter?!” were just too funny.

    Me, I get wonderful looks of surprise and confusion when people find out that I used to work as a Superintended on construction sites…hard hat, radio, flannel shirt, work boots, etc. After one project opened I had to punchlist on occupied floors and had to be dressed up to do it. So I showed up in a skirt and nice shoes that day. Two laborers ran past me on the stairs, stopped, turned around, and said “Oh my God, she’s got legs!”

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    • Those are great stories! Father Peter sounds like quite a card–the kind of guy that makes you pull out old expressions like “sounds like quite a card”, I guess!

      I love the story about your job, too. Definitely not what people expect!

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  7. My pastor is always talking about the funny things that happen when people find out that he’s a pastor. Its like everyone figures pastors don’t sin or know any bad words lol

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  8. Pingback: The Book of Moi | Never Done It That Way Before

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