When I first meet people in a purely social setting (like I did today - friends of my husband from high school I had never met), I wonder when I should tell them I am a pastor. I would just like for people to be themselves, but when they discover what I do, things often change. For example, on vacation trips when someone I meet finds out I am a pastor, they often proceed to tell me all about their pastor and their church, both the good and the bad. It usually monopolizes the conversation. My dear husband endures it patiently, but that’s not exactly my idea of vacation conversation.
Then there are the folks who seem so uncomfortable when they find out. It is like they are monitoring everything they say, or, hoping I don’t start preaching to them. The bottom line is, it can be difficult to make friends when you are clergy - friends who understand everyone needs a little time away and no one wants to just ‘talk shop’ all the time.
All the way home from meeting my new friends at dinner, however, I was mulling over the reasons (excuses) for my hesitancy to reveal my occupation. I am not nearly as hesitant to reveal my vocation, for being a Christian is just who I am. But the calling of pastor is a little more difficult for folks to handle, it seems. It isn’t that I am embarrassed (I pray it's not!), but that I would prefer folks to get to know me just a little before they know what I do.
All this made me stop and think: how many times is one of my first questions when meeting someone new, ‘what do you do?’ Is our occupation really reflective of who we are? Is there a more appropriate way to learn about others? What could it be....?