Today’s Word from Pastor Jim… 

I learned very early on that one could not survive in parish ministry without a thick skin. If one is too sensitive or too easily offended, this work will chew them up. We get more than our share of criticism. Most of the criticism is offered by good, spirited people who care about us and the church. Sometimes we are a safe place for people to vent. When people are angry, sad or feeling out of control, they let off that steam in our direction. It does not feel good, but it really has nothing to do with us, we were just available.

I learned very quickly that one could not survive in parish ministry without a thick skin. My rule of thumb for all criticism is twofold: first, consider the source. Is the source credible, authentic and trustworthy? Second, prayerfully consider the efficacy of the criticism. All criticism is to be taken seriously. Some criticism will necessitate a change in policy, direction or behavior. Other times we can just chalk it up to a difference of opinion, style or philosophy. Criticism should be considered with an open mind, but rarely should it be taken personally.

On occasion, over the years I have been criticized for not offering enough political commentary; for refusing to condone or condemn politicians, political parties, movements, Israel, legislation or social issues. I choose to preach Jesus, and let you figure out the politics. I choose to encourage you to vote and to take Jesus with you when you do. I am thinking that none of us lack political commentary. Political commentary fills the airwaves, social media, and our in-boxes 24 hours a day. The last thing you need is one more nut telling you how to vote. My calling is to preach and teach the way of Jesus. Your calling is to live your life with integrity as you follow Jesus.

Three years ago, the church sign said, “Tweet others as your wish to be tweeted.” It was a modern play on the Golden Rule, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:12. In response, I received this email, “Jim, is your reference to Twitter another political message? Why are you, by all obvious accounts, supporting an organization which is censoring republicans and the right? If you voted for Biden, you’re one of those who has paved the way for the evil of globalism.”

Consider the source, consider the criticism. The truth is, the only time people want to hear political commentary from me or anyone else, is when their firmly held views are reinforced and justified. There are precious few open-minded people on the right or the left.

I think it best that I just do what you called me to do 35 years ago: preach the gospel, teach the way of Jesus, and leave the political commentary to others. If we take the teachings of Jesus seriously, we will have our hands full. We will need to care for the poor, the hungry, the widow and the orphan. If we follow the Rabbi from the Galilee, we will have to learn to love our enemies, to be humble of heart, regarding others as being better than ourselves. If we follow Jesus, there will be no room for hatred, prejudice, revenge, or less than respectful discourse.

Are the teachings of Jesus political? Of course they are!

One beggar telling another where to find bread, I am your,

Pastor Jim

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