Jul 21, 2010

Don't Force Any Pedestals On Me

Common Sense Commentary: Our dear children, please don't force any pedestals off on us; your mom wouldn't stay put five minutes and I wouldn't either with her gone.

My mother never would stay on the royal pedestal her children provided. She was a busy woman. My father was the hard-handed, gentle hearted, master plumber and farmer but the pedestal we put him on was far too limited in working space and too far from the ground for him to dig in the dirt or split wood on. So, as you can see, our family already has two perfectly good, dust covered, unused pedestals. We have no need for a new one. Our children have tried many times to put their mother on one, but she has gardens to tend, fruit trees to prune, quilts and paintings to finish. She seldom even sits down and could never stand still way up there on that thing.

One day, years ago, someone said,"Pastor, you don't look like yourself, to me, in that pick-up truck". I'm sure that was true to her, but I looked like me to me, in a truck, and I try to stay in touch with who I really am, not what people think I am. I always knew our precious church wanted the best for my wife and me and wouldn't have objected if I drove a Mercedes, which I once did, but they knew me and let me be myself. Actually, now that I'm retired from the pastorate and eighty years old, nobody even tries the pedestal thing any more and for that I am thankful. Anyway, I'm too old to carry one of those things and I couldn't survive having one pushed off on me, I'm fragile.

One time, in the 1980's, I was installing an underground sprinkler system in our yard. I was nearly finished when I broke a part and had to go to the plumbing supply store. It was a hot, August day and I was wearing cut-off jeans. My legs, arms and face were smeared with sweat and mud, my shoes were worn and dirty, so I put on an old ball cap to hide my wet, tangled hair and sunglasses...as a disguise. When I walked into the store, a man I didn't even know said, "You're out of uniform aren't you Preacher?" I didn't get to enjoy a day like that often, but that muddy uniform fit my frame every bit as well as a business suit, and much better than a pompous, clerical robe. The soil is where I came from; it's what I am, and I try to live the truth. Not that I always succeed,but if I robed myself in an appearance of holy perfection, those who believed it, would think it possible and try to do the same. The final result of that would be failure and disillusionment in God or themselves
and quit even trying to walk with God. I have seen that happen. "We are but flesh" Psm.78:39

Some of our members once brought a huge portrait of me and placed it in the foyer of our church. I walked past it three times before I just could not bear it and took it down. When I retired there in 1992, it was still in a closet somewhere. I still regret the money wasted enlarging that thing and the expensive frame they put it in.

Another time, some wonderful members wanted to redecorate my fifteen year old office.
I much appreciated their love and loyalty and wouldn't want to frustrate their plans to create an office as beautiful and impressive as they had in mind. But, I could not be comfortable spending a lot of money changing something I was content with. There were other priorities, and besides, all those things my friends had given me over the years just wouldn't have looked right in the midst of a lavish decor. One member, an interior decorator, Russ Brabec, a great friend, told my wife, Bettie, that, "The Pastor's idea of redecorating his office is changing the drapes...and that out of recycled material". My wife laughed at that until the tears fell...as if Russ had pressed some magic, funny button. I appreciated Russ and the staff and those who gave the money, for letting me be me and not forcing any prima donna pedestals off on me.

I prefer the pulpit to the pedestal. Jesus never allowed them and never chose one for Himself. Pedestals are for cold, dead images of has beens who live only in the memory. But, of course, there are living preachers who feel too small in reality, who insist on high titles such as "Doctor","Right Reverend" etc. to feed an ego or maybe to impress, but not so with Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul who used their first names. Jesus didn't even use such a thing for Himself, much less should we, mere messengers of His Good News. "How beautiful are the FEET of them that preach the gospel" . Rom.10:15. Put my " feet" on a pedestal, when I'm gone, but leave me off it. Luke was known as "Luke the beloved physician" but I doubt he insisted on that as a title. At least he was a real doctor. Of course, referencing someones vocation or accomplishments is in order but when Paul asked, "Lord, who art thou?" Jesus said, "I am Jesus......." Call me Rayburn or Brother or Pastor or Preacher but leave off the the Pedestal engravings. Inscribe on my gravestone, "Rayburn Blair, a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Rom.10:15". Please don't put, "Dr." or "Rev." or "His Holiness" or some such foolish, presumptuous nonsense. I have two honorary doctorates but don't use them. God's assignment to His ministers is that we be hidden behind the cross and that our ministries reflect Jesus in the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit....not ourselves. No, I am not pedestal material. I am the common son of common parents who worshiped the majestic, high and lifted up God of the universe and nothing casts a shadow on Him.

We can't even put God Himself or Jesus on a pedestal. It is ridiculous to try. It would be a "forbidden" graven image of Ex.20:4. We don't even know enough to create anything in their image. The only information we have on their appearance can not be put on a pedestal. We should "lift up " Jesus with our words and our lives for the world to see as Jesus said in Jn.12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" that they might be saved. Give no one else His glory.

Pass It On. RB


Blair said...

Love you, Papa!!

jjhoch63 said...

Thank you Lord for giving us this loving and humble servant. We love you Pastor and Bettie for the "real" pastor and true friends that you have always been to us and our children

hayvanaq said...

well, this one made me cry, Rayburn. I remember that office with love...with all the mementos. I remember an article you wrote for publication just before you retired....I had to type it and I cried all the way through. Thank you for being a real man who ministered.

peterdavidorr said...

Great stuff RB.

Acts 17:20-30

Tom said...

Rayburn, my pastor for 11 years, thank you for these words from the humble man I know you to be. I've missed you these last 17 years. I miss your preaching, your guidance and most of all "being around you."

Bless the Lord, we've been reunited.

Tom Show

Mary said...

Bro. Blair, it has been years since you left our church in Arlington. That was when you and Bettie moved to Florida. I've tried over and over to find you guys without any success until tonight. So good to finally locate you two. Would love to chat - find out all that's been going on. May not be enough time left to cover all those years. Do you still sing?

We moved to Garland in 1963. John has passed away. He had brain cancer. You can email me at mjtatom@verizon.net or mjtatom@gmail.com Home phone 972-272-9246. Give my love to Bettie. Does you sister Betty still live in Arlington?
Mary Tatom