What do you call your pastor?

MICHAEL J. BROOKS / Guest Columnist

I found a shocking note on the office door after our Wednesday night Bible study concluded: “I smell a rat!”

Someone had attached this hand-written note to my door. She later confessed, and all in good fun. She did smell a rat. My sense of smell isn’t as keen as my hearing and vision, so I didn’t smell the critter. The next morning I found his corpse in an outside utility room. Our exterminators had done a good job, it’s just that the rat got past the perimeter.

One study found the average pastor spends five to seven hours each week in custodial duties, so I’m accustomed to comments on Sunday like “Thank you for the good sermon,” followed by “The toilet is clogged.” So I added a new item to my resume: dead rat-remover.

I guess those who saw that note may’ve thought the lady was calling me a rat.

I’ve been called a few names over the years.

A deacon once called me “naïve.” He got upset over a group from another racial background who came to our church on a Sunday morning. I told him this is what we did: we invited everyone. I suggested we needed to be colorblind, so he called me naïve. This kind of naivety is a good thing.

Another deacon essentially called me a “naughty boy” when he said he wanted to take me over his knee and spank me. I wasn’t a boy, but a student at Auburn University serving a church in Chambers County. I was full of fire and wanted to save the world, but, of course, I had little knowledge and poor people skills. Later I learned from John Maxwell that this man was an “influencer” because everybody listened to him. I should’ve been smart enough to work with him to get things done, but I didn’t. I thought I knew more than I did. Perhaps a good spanking would’ve been a reality check.

My dad gave me sound advice when this man’s wife got sick. “Stay close to them and visit and pray for her.” I did. I think we became friends.

What do you call your pastor? I hope you call him “friend.” I hope you see him as a flawed person seriously trying to serve God and to move the church forward in this post-pandemic world. He needs your advice, and hopefully knows that he needs it and listens to you. He needs your love. Sometimes he needs your forgiveness.

And most of all, he needs your prayers. Pray for God’s wisdom, God’s leadership and God’s protection for him in a dangerous new world filled with criticism and litigation.

Your partnership can make him stronger and better.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.