Something Stupid?

thom-rainerSay hello to Thom S. Rainer.

He’s a pastor of four churches and president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

He also admits to a non-exhaustive list of 9 stupid things he did.

Let’s have a little look shall we?

1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.

So what you’re saying is, rather than sit around doing nothing except talk to yourself, you actually spent your time doing things.  Things that could possibly have a positive effect on friends, family, congregation and even the wider community.

But because you weren’t spending enough time mumbling to yourself, all those things that you may have achieved are of no consequence?

I’m forced to agree with you so far, you are stupid.  But I’ll hold out until I have been through the list to see if my opinion changes.

2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.

Well, gotta say… Still stupid.  I cannot imagine the circumstance where I would put anyone or anything ahead of my commitment to my loved ones.

Especially something as pointless as religion.

You notice I don’t say that you have put other people ahead of your family, but your religion?  That’s because, that’s exactly what you did!  Your commitment to your loving god was/is more important to you than your wife and children.  Not only is that idiocy, but it is morally reprehensible as well.

3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.

Why did you need God to see through a situation? Do you not have a brain?  A complex device that is perfectly evolved for problem solving.  Admittedly, we can all take our eye off the ball from time to time, but to say that it is due to a lack of religious conviction is a ridiculous thing to say.

Personally, I think it could be put down to any number of factors;

  • Fatigue.
  • Not having all the facts.
  • Frustration at a lack of progress for reasons that may be beyond your control.

Not for a second could I imagine that a lack of religious faith could in any way affect my ability to solve a problem.  And to say otherwise is a cop out!

4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.

Again, I concur with regard to your stupidity.  Critic ≠ Adversary, at least not always.  Even though critical debate is adversarial by nature.  The thing about this one is that it is typical theist behaviour.  If someone disagrees, even in the slightest, you are oh so quick to play the oppression card.

I’m the first to agree that in some parts of the world, being Christian is a very real threat to life and liberty.  But not where you live.  Not in the good ol’ US of A.

The worst you can look forward to is someone like me calling you an idiot and/or calling you out on your bullshit.

5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.

Of course you did.  A larger congregation = more money in your coffers and more power.  Religion is a business after all, nothing more and nothing less.  The only difference between religion and every other business in the world is that religion has no end product.

So going by your business model, you were actually doing the right thing.

But what’s your answer? Mumble to yourself… Yeah, that’ll work.

6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.

Ooh. Group mumbling.  Not running a soup kitchen? Not offering help and assistance to those members of your congregation that may need more tangible help?

You are not doing much to change my opinion of you so far.

7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.

It’s only human.  We are social animals after all.  I’m not saying that you are right about seeking the approval of others… If it’s for the right reasons.

How can I explain this without sounding like a self-serving, baby-eating, hedonistic atheist?

Okay, reputation is an important thing.  Do you want a reputation of doing good works purely for the sake of doing good works like Doctors Without Borders? Or maybe you want public approbation for being all spiritual and mystical and godly and stuff, just like old Jesus was.

Re-read your Bible and you’ll see for yourself that Jesus talked the talk a lot more often than he walked the walk.

Instead of trying to be more ‘Christ-like’, why not be more like, amongst others:

  • John Robert Fox
  • Vincent Coleman
  • Arland Williams
  • Richard Rescorla.

No idea who they are? Follow the link here and see for yourself.  I must admit in terms of being role models, they have not only beaten Jesus, hands down, but they’ve kicked the living shit out of him as well!

Instead of trying to be like a mythological figure, try to be more like the noblest of your fellow human beings.

8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.

This one’s too easy.  Instead of getting out there and doing things for the great you did things for the good.

I’m not calling you stupid for doing that on this occasion, but I am still calling you stupid, for the simple reason that you have just clearly stated that doing a good thing is both unreasonable and a waste of your time.

9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

So, you are human.  Giving up on something due to frustration or exhaustion is entirely forgiveable in my opinion.  After all, we can’t win every battle.

But to give up on something or someone due to a lack of faith? How the fuck does your lack of faith stop you from doing the right thing?  Unless your faith is the only thing causing you to try to be a force for good.

And if that’s the case, then I’m scared of you.  After all, if I happen across you in the street when you’re having one of your ‘crises’ what can I expect?

  • A proper kicking?
  • To be mugged?
  • A torture/rape/murder scenario with me as the guest of honour?

I’m not trying to be flippant here (well not too much) but you must see my point.  If the only thing causing you to try to do the right thing is your faith, then your character is less than stellar and is clearly lacking moral fibre.

I have no religious faith but still endeavour to do the right thing in practically every situation.

But then what do I know?  After all, I’m just a godless heathen.

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