Don’t Let Worry Kill You

Every once in a while, I run across an article (or an e-mail) that enumerates some church bulletin bloopers. You’ve undoubtedly seen these—glaring and often embarrassing mistakes found among the Sunday announcements. They’re often typos, but sometimes they’ve merely been stated in an awkward manner.

A friend just sent me a batch. A lot of these get recycled every few years—probably because they never seem to lose their oomph. Here are a few to refresh your memory:

“Up Yours”

“The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.” “The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water. The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.” “Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.” “For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.” And then, there’s one of my all-time favorites, “The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge—Up Yours.’” 

This time around, there was one that especially caught my attention. It stated, “Don’t let worry kill you off—let the church help.” I guess the reason it jumped out at me… Well, I’m not really sure why it jumped out at me. But, it hit home (maybe that’s the reason).

I’ve never been one to do a lot of worrying. I’m not sure why that is, but I suppose it’s hidden in my DNA somewhere. I’ve always tended to be somewhat laid back. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the times I’ve lost sleep over anything.

As I look back over my life, however, the biggest worries seem to have occurred because of the church. This might not have been true had I not become a pastor. Alas and alack, I DID become a pastor, and then my real worries began.

Secure in Their Position

You would think that a person who believed their salvation had been secured would, in turn, feel rather secure in their position as a parson. Not so… Once I stepped into that position, I began to worry about perception. I became concerned over how I was perceived by the various members of my congregations.

I, like many of my ilk, started to become a tad paranoid. Sometimes I’d be writing a sermon and worry how people would take it. The fallback position was always, “Hey, this is what Jesus said. Don’t shoot the messenger.” Still, that doesn’t always cut it in the clergyperson’s psyche. (Or in the minds of the laity for that matter.)

Still, I fared much better than many of my peers in full-time ministry. Loads of them are on Zoloft and other anti-depressants. I escaped without an ulcer or a spike in my blood pressure.

Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what they would say (even if they were dragged before a court). Yet, we preachers still worry about the court of public opinion. Maybe we should listen more closely to the Boss.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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