I am training for a half marathon that is coming in 2 months. I have much more respect for people that run long distances than I ever did in the past. I ran 5 miles last week and I am having aches and pains in places that reveal to me what I am truly trying to accomplish. I am running each week and in different locations throughout town so the training is not methodical. A few days ago I decided to run on the middle school track around the soccer field. The soccer coaches had just finished practice and were preparing to leave. I ran about 3 miles when they were approaching the gate of the fence. I asked if I needed to leave or what needed to occur. They asked me how long I planned to stay and I told them I had 3 miles left to run. I was told one of them would hang behind as I would not be able to lock up myself. The first thought that went through my head was to let them know I am a minister and it would be safe to trust me with the responsibility of closing the gate.
Fortunately before any foolish words came out of my mouth I reflected on what that phrase of “I’m a minister and you can trust me” would mean to them. This past week at the church I attend a minister made moral decisions that cost him his role at the church. Earlier that morning I read in the news of another scandal by a priest in Philadelphia. Does “I’m a minister you can trust me” have the credibility today with people that it did 30 years ago? The question to consider is should people be given an instant pass because of a title they carry anyways? Maybe it’s not a bad quality that people are realizing ministers are fallible humans like the rest of society.
Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit. The fruit the bible says we are to bear are qualities like love, joy, peace, and patience. When these traits are what is coming out of someone you can be confident they are a person with some positive character. When the fruit is absent but the title is in place then cautious patience is required on extending trust and looking more closely for those desired traits.
We live in a different day and age from when I was growing up. Titles like coach, teacher, officer, pastor and more carried weight that instantly brought respect and admiration. The mistakes of many seem to have eliminated that instant respect. The good news is that character doesn’t lie and if you are known as a person of integrity than opportunities will still be extended to you. Titles are temporary but good character will endure the test of time. Maybe the phrase in the future should read “it’s okay I’m a minister and I want to be sensitive to your family waiting at home so I will grab my stuff and leave”. That phrase might produce more trust than a title ever could anyway.