After my Finals, some of us congregated in a posh St Andrews cocktail lounge. An American lady – on vacation – was waiting at the bar with a dear friend and I. She said something along the lines of “What are you guys celebrating?” And I told her that we’d finished our divinity exams. My friend, trying to justify his slight intoxication (!) continued the conversation by saying, “To be a man of God, you’ve got to be a man of the people”
And that’s kind of stuck with me after 40 years of ordained ministry
- George MacLeod wrote:
- so many of us cling to the traditional belief that we – in the pulpit – are “six feet above contradiction”; that spiritual leadership becomes spiritual dictatorship, because “we know best”. As mentioned, I was ordained in 1974 and thought that I knew it all – it was only when mixing with congregational members and parishioners that I realised that I wasn’t really addressing their hopes, fears and aspirations. I went to the places they frequented, including pubs and bars and clubs, and was eventually accepted as not so much “The Minister’s here – watch your language” but as part of the fellowship of general humanity. Yes, there was still respect for my role, but the mythology built around the “set apart” person was diminished.