being human

In my ‘draft’s’ folder is the beginning of a post about why pastors shouldn’t tweet.

My point was going to be that people should tweet, not pastors (or CEOs or plumbers or any other role). My point was going to be that we should be people who turn out to be pastors or CEOs or plumbers. Rather than being about broadcasting our business, we should live and let that show the validity of our business (especially when our business is life).

I got stuck as I was writing that post because, after all,  there are reasons to bring business to twitter. All the time we bring our positions to facebook. We create fan pages for our companies and our churches and our books.  And so to say “should” is to be needlessly purist.

Sometime in the midst of thinking about the post, I read an article by Scot McKnight (twitter theology). He looked at the tweets of a bunch of pastors and discovered that we talk a lot about sports and celebrities  He writes:

We also regularly discover who is meeting with whom (and the “whom” is always a notch above the “who”), or where someone is traveling. We hear about accomplishments but almost never any failures or disappointments, making the Twitter world largely a happy face community.

And he’s right. Though we pastors do talk much about our disappointments with not having coffee and we do yell about the failures of  lousy drivers.

But it is hard to not just be positive or cranky. You don’t want to be preachy because you want to engage in conversations because you care about people. You know that there are lots of people who are feeling incredibly beat up by church and you don’t want to add to that. So you try to find a balance.

And then, life happens. As pastors, our jobs include talking with people in pain. When you are having conversations with people about things that break your heart because their heart is being broken, you just can’t share that information on twitter.

And so we, or at least I, often don’t mention those things at all.

Until today I tweeted this: there are some conversations I have that would break your heart.

and willconley777 said: Good. Break them. We need the emotional truth.

and Will’s right.

But I don’t know what it means.

I don’t know exactly how to tell in 140 characters that there are people who have huge gaping holes in their hearts and they do things that devastate the people closest to them and sometimes they do it in the name of God and sometimes they do it without thinking at all about anyone other than themselves.

And I don’t know exactly how to tell in 140 characters that in the middle of that immense pain I sometimes talk to those devastated people about a God who understands what it is like to experience betrayal and abandonment and insolence and misunderstanding and judgment…and mercy.

And I don’t know exactly how to say in 140 characters, without sound trite or cliche, that I care or that I understand. (I have a hard time doing that face to face with infinite characters. )

And I don’t know how to say in 140 characters that some people wanted to help some other people have Christmas on the same day that some other people were fretting about how they were going to have Christmas and that a friend got to pass that news along.

And I don’t know how to say in 140 characters that after 10 years with a group of (formerly) young people, their leader is moving on but cares much about them and is working to make it be a smooth and challenging and forming and stimulating transition. And that I’ll be working with the leadership team to help it work.

And I don’t know how to say that I’m kind of tired but it is a good tired but draining but I love what I get to do even when it exhausts.

I don’t want to be a pastor tweeting. I think we probably need fewer, not more. But people struggling to be clear and helpful and caring and healing who end up, much to everyone’s surprise, being employed as shepherds? I’m guessing that we could use more of those.

I could, anyway.

Because sometimes I’m human, too.



7 responses to “being human

  1. Well said, Friend. I would rather feel the “hurt” than not feel at all.

  2. thank you. I agree completely.

  3. It’s a tough place to be as a Pastors to share details of what they have to deal with when it comes to other people personal issues. But I think it’s not wrong for Pastors to tweet out that they’ve had a rough day w/out intimate details. It sure is more real then to belt out a verses every 12 hours and no interaction in between.

  4. Jon, if twitter is only about the positives it will lose its value – a place where we can go for support, encouragement, ideas, learning, support, a breather.

    That allows for honesty – which isn’t the same as being negative, or down about things (which I find really hard to listen to there – it seems to be exaggerated somehow.)

    I read your tweet – thought I didn’t reply. It seeems to me those kind of messages are a way to keep us truthful and grounded, aware of things that matter and count.

    Oh – I see your headline… it’s a way of reminding ourselves and each other that we’re human.

  5. Fascinating post, Jon. The fact is you are incredibly skilled at communicating in 140 and your tweets are quite revealing–in a good way.

  6. I just wanted to write to thank you for your posts, and your tweets. I found you several months ago via twitter, and always enjoy your insights and thoughts.

    I withdrew from religion in general a long time ago because of some of those hurts that just arent reparable, and your posts have really helped me to know a peace that I haven’t had in years.

    Anyway, I just wanted to write and say thank you, and let you know that your humanity, and honesty is so very valued and appreciated be it in long posts or 140 characters at a time.

  7. Angel, thank you for taking the time to let me know.