Over a year ago, I decided to get involved in this blog business. But before that, I had stuck my big toe in the water, by taking part in some of the conversations at World Magazine's blog. I decided to use my real name, and my title.
Lately I'm just using my first name. I'm still a pastor, but after a year of experimenting with taking part in a public forum, my original reasons for commenting as "Pastor Joe Fremer" no longer carry much weight.
What were the original reasons? I offer one that was intentional and examined, and one that was lurking beneath the surface.
- A distrust of my flesh. I thought that, if I were hiding behind a pseudonym, the temptation to "post first, think later" might prove too strong. I felt that I needed accountability, of the kind that could only come if it were possible for someone to look up my RL phone number and call me on the carpet for something I said. I've never been that kind of a person, to mindlessly flame someone, but in the heat of a debate, you don't know what might happen...
- A desire for recognition. I thought if the word Pastor were in my comment name, it might make people say, "Hey, who's this guy calling himself a pastor? I'm just gonna check him out." In short, there was somewhere in there, still in perfect working order after all these years, the willingness to use God's calling for my own selfish interests--in this case, to get people to visit my blog. This started when I coveted a position on the sidebar of World Magazine's blog, where it listed "Blogging Pastors." I never made it, and a good thing too. My blogging tends to be infrequent and quite marginal. I do not deserve to be in the same list mentioned alongside people like Paul McCain, Rev. Cwirla, and Aardvark Aalley. (Where do they get the time?)
The first reason is worthy, but I think I have demonstrated that I can bite my tongue and think first. The second is despicable. I thought I was over that. God forgive me!
He does. He did before, too, when I was entering my teens, and telling people I wanted to be a pastor because it got me good strokes. When He confronted me with what I was doing, I assumed that I'd blown it. He let me think that for a while, so I could fall out of love with the image of myself as a pastor. Then He tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You know, I never did say you couldn't
be a pastor."
So, suitably humbled and genuinely repentant, I became a pastor, but I always thought of that as a privilege, not as a badge of status. (I never liked the word "reverend.") My goal has been this: always to sound like a Christian, never to sound like a pastor. If you've met guys who carry the pastor thing around them, like a cloud of perfume--guys who sound like
a pastor even when they are phoning in an order for chop suey--you know the type that I mean.
Call me Pastor--it's the title I love best--but if you are not in my flock, it's quite all right with me if you call me Joe.