A few years ago at our Vacation Bible School, one of the kids from the community was in the hallway where pictures of the current (“yours truly”) and former pastors of the church are displayed. There are several, of course, some going back to the founding of our church. The boy turned to a friend and asked, “Are these the principals?”
That got me to thinking. Maybe our church needs a principal, and wouldn’t it be fun to be that person for a day. The first thing I would do is give some members a three day suspension for talking too much. Then I would summon Charlie Almon and Wayne Garner to the office for a paddling, just because… Unexcused absences, without a doctor’s note, would result in having to listen to CDs of last week’s sermon. I would then issue a degree that church library fines are to be tripled, with the funds going to the principal’s (pastor’s) golf vacation. And finally, I would expel certain members for teaching our kids unacceptable language like “War Eagle” and “Go Dogs.”
I have often thought a pastor’s job and a principal’s job are similar. Both have to provide leadership to a large organization. Both pastor and principal must give direction and inspiration to paid workers and to a host of volunteers. The pastor and principal are both held accountable, rightly or wrongly, for the success and failure of the institution.
Both pastor and principal are also called on often to “say a few words.” We both make lots of speeches (sermons) and talks to different groups. Pastor and principal have to choose their words carefully because we have to speak about some really tough stuff.
I will admit that it is tough to talk about important things. It is tough to “say a few words” about significant things in life. If you want to talk about the baseball playoffs, college football, golf, the weather, then I can talk until you are blue in the face. But saying the right words about important stuff is tough.
If you want to talk about really important things, well…I would rather buy some flowers and a box of candy than say, “I love you.” When you go to visit someone in the hospital, do you secretly hope that the patient isn’t in the room at the time so that you can leave a card? That way you get credit for going without having to say anything. I’m telling you, “saying a few words” about significant things is tough. “John and Jane, have you talked to your daughter about, um, you know, sex?” “No, but we’re going to.” “Well, she’s 39; don’t you think it is about time?”
It is tough to talk about some things. It is tough to talk about God. If you want to put a damper on a conversation, say “hey let’s talk about God.” People start looking at their watches and say “Oops, time for me to go.” But Paul makes it clear in Romans 10:8, “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart,” that our faith is a verbal faith. Words are important in our faith. It is not enough just to live for Jesus. At some point you have to say something about your faith.
The new school year has started and principals are called on to say “a few words.” Good luck with that, and be careful what you say or you might get sent to the pastor’s office.