I’m a ministry snob

I’ve realized this for a while, only I’ve not admitted to it publicly. I’m a ministry snob. Not the kind that has the cool clubs and only lets those in with the best smiles and most radical testimony take part. No, another kind.

I’m not a music snob. My music collection is, according to the standards of postmodernity, pretty bad. I don’t keep up on major artists or independent artists, though I have been running across a few I really like. I don’t go to clubs and I can count on my fingers how many live concerts I’ve been to. I don’t mind the fact that I like pop radio stations whenever NPR gets too political. I hear a song and I like it, and I’m perfectly happy if I’m late to the party.

Some folks take pride in their musical tastes, however. They know obscure artists, and often stop listening to artists when they’ve become non-obscure. Sheer popularity is a sign of selling out to labels or Clear Channel. They are music snobs. Always looking for new or hidden or unappreciated. And they revel in the discovery and dislike being part of anything that brings in the kinds of fans who like popularity more than talent.

That’s how I am with ministry I realize. I’ve realized this is almost entirely why I’ve never read a Brian McClaren book. I also realize this is why I don’t go to all the big festivals and the big conventions and gatherings. Unfortunately this trait means that I’ve not networked near like I should, staying most hidden, even online. I don’t really care about all the cool places to gather. I have my spots and forums, but they’re not really tapping into the grand networks of people. I tend to like to be hidden with the hidden people I guess. And I have met some of the most extraordinary folks in such places. They may never get on a stage or write a bestselling book or speak at seminars or be invited to Leadership Development Extravaganza Remix!!

They’re not the kinds of people who are the emphasis of ministry training books. But they’ve lived lives and have wisdom and insight and wonderful, wonderful souls loved by God. They do the work of God in hidden places. Without ministry funding or spotlights. They’re in the trenches.

I like that. I feel comfortable with that. I think maybe I’ve always been a ministry snob, because even in college I knew what was needed to rise in the ranks of the officially approved, but I kept undercutting myself. I dropped out of a major ministry opportunity when I realized my motives were mixed. I quietly fasted, quietly endured major times of wilderness, quietly left the scene. I didn’t play the game.

And when it came time to work in a church I still didn’t play. I said all the right things to all the wrong people. I didn’t give into the usual pattern that it’s the congregation who should be lambasted, not the leadership. I kept raising points to elders and pastors and didn’t buy into the fact the church was sliding because of the then potent charge of consumerism.

Which makes it even more funny that I’m somewhat connected to the emerging church movement, that collection of hipsters who define themselves in many cases with juvenile distinctions, refusing to be what they’re parents were, just because their parents seemed repressive. I spend a lot of my public time defending this movement, for good reasons, even as I harbor a lot of criticisms, some of which leak out on occasion when I feel there are people who get what I’m saying.

I don’t like fitting in, apparently. Maybe this is an expression of a prophet, which was in fact my highest score on a certain leadership survey.

I don’t know what it is, or why I can’t keep my big mouth shut around the very folks who might help me further my own contributions. I know how to brown nose, and can see when it should be done, but there’s that whisper, that push, that prodding which constantly brings out just the thing to keep me from being part of the team.

It would make things a lot easier if I wasn’t a ministry snob. Oh, bother.

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