Most, maybe all, preachers have complicated, compartmentalized lives. There's the public persona with the jolly laugh and the hail-fellow-well-met greeting or the reverent scripture quoting tone. Then there's the family man/woman who wears his pajamas (or less) in the evening, and the sweat stained T-shirt when he mows the lawn, and is silly with the kids, and romantic with the spouse (usually not enough, though). Then there's that special, very small circle of friends where he can speak his private thoughts, smoke a cigar, drink a beer, and say curse words.
We all have those different circles, but the minister guards the boundaries very carefully, even though he often has to switch suddenly.
I can be in the middle of love-making, but I'll HAVE to answer the phone because it might be an emergency, although it usually is one of those piddling problems people are so preoccupied with. Or I can be on the toilet and the same phone will ring but this time someone might very well be crying on the other end of the line, and I'll sit there consoling someone while I discreetly wipe.
I've worried that my children see me switch personas so quickly. I can be grumbling about the bills when the phone rings and I'll immediately become "Genial Man" who laughs easily. Then I hang up the phone and become grumpy Dad again. Do my kids think I'm crazy? Do they think I'm dishonest? And would they be right? On both counts?
I write three different blogs having to do with being a minister. One is my public one where I write about religious insights. Another is anonymous about the true life of a clergyman. And then there's this one, where I'm struggling to find my way out of this life. Actually, I started another one that airs my comments on world events, but I had to let that one go.
For the most part, I have kept the audiences separated. I mean, what would a reader think if he read my public one on my observations about a Christlike attitude and then read on this blog that I just don't believe this stuff any more?
I try to tell myself: "Don't sweat it. Just lie about it all." But it's pretty wearing. I actually try to be a consistent, at least a little. In my preaching, I focus on the scriptural text and break down its elements of literature, and then I'll point out insights that I still believe. And I'll talk in code, such as when I speak of resurrection, I'm using it metaphorically while the audience is thinking of it literally, and I do nothing to correct the difference. Perhaps there's someone in the audience who really is getting what I say
The church is a crazy culture that demands deception for survival. It's ironic that we speak so much of truth, yet create a community where everyone has to lie.