So I finally broke it to my oldest sister that I’m doing the whole pastor thing. (Well, she may be older. At some point in our youth, I distinctly remember her being four years older than me, but I haven’t checked lately. You see, once she hit 30, she started aging backwards. I don’t know how, but every time I heard her tell someone how old she was, she kept getting younger and younger. I don’t think anyone knows how old she is anymore.)

Even though we were raised in separate households, (I don’t have a family tree, I have a family bush) we’re like twins separated at birth. We have the same taste in television shows, movies, and books. We have frighteningly similar personalities, we’re equally vain, and we’re driven by the path of least resistance (read: lazy).

If I were a woman, I’d be her.

So not surprisingly, the fact that I was doing ministry work caught her off guard. After all, she knew me. The refrain of our conversation was “This is not going to end well.” For some reason, all she said she could picture was “the minister from Poltergeist, scenes from Constantine, and Jim Jones.”

She asked me if I was ordained. The bigger debate for me was whether I should do the whole seminary thing. Ordination, as it turned out, is not that big a deal. Anyone could do it with 15 minutes and the Internet. I told her that pastors were like vampires: each one could turn another.

“This is not going to end well.”

Then she asked if the family was behind me? Again, because they actually knew me. Now, I don’t exactly look to my family to support me in most of my endeavors. In this case, they looked at me with that same arched eyebrow skepticism that signaled “you will soon be in jail for some sort of tax evasion crime.” However, I told her “who do you want telling you how to lose weight: the skinny guy who’s been skinny all his life no matter what he eats or the fat dude that’s lost weight? I’m the fat dude, the sin expert. I put the “mess” in “messy spirituality”.

“This is not going to end well.”

The thing I run up against the most is that people have a very specific idea of what Christians are like and what pastors can do. Especially church folk. Then they torture themselves by being locked into that idea of spirituality. That’s just not me. I might drink more often than they think is okay. I might use language more coarse than they think is acceptable. To quote Michael Yaconelli in his book, Messy Spirituality, “Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. it is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are NOW in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we LET GO is seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.”

Long pause.

“This is so not going to end well.”