One of the things I learned very early here at Helping Up Mission was that I didn’t need any longer to try and fit on top of that pastoral pedestal that we pastors often get placed upon. The guys here had come because they were broken and I knew that I wasn’t that hot either! Back in our suburban church it was difficult not succumbing to the pressure (real or perceived!) that I should measure up well with the ideal of what a pastor should be. But down here I didn’t feel that pressure. In fact, the more honest I got about my own issues, the more “street cred” I got with the guys. It was liberating.
At some point, I got around to discussing what the Bible says about all of us – that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Inevitably, someone would point out that we are now a new creation in Christ, that the old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). And they were right, the Bible does say that – but what exactly is gone and what exactly is new in our lives? And usually the guy who brings this up has been a new creation for quite a few years but kept relapsing.
So we would talk about the Apostle Paul – writer of half the New Testament. As a believer, as an apostle, as the writer of more books of the New Testament than anyone else, Paul struggled. He wrote about himself:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to Godthrough Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25).
Sounds like Paul had some issues. He went on to say:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).
Note that he said “I am the worst,” not “I was the worst.” Paul knew he still had it in him to do the dumbest stuff. So around here I began to say (and really believe) that we are all just a bunch of “dirty rotten stinkin’ sinners.” And when I’m really on a roll, I might also add “and so is your pastor and yo’ momma!” The phrase has caught on around here (maybe because I say it a lot) and one day I walked into class and someone had written on the board “Pastor Gary is a DRSS.” While I didn’t doubt that it was possible, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. The guy who wrote it proudly announced that it meant I was a “dirty rotten stinkin’ sinner,” and no one in the room seemed to disagree.
Now that our new building with its accompanying parking lot is up and running, my seniority (I am finishing my 11th year here at Helping Up Mission) earned me the first parking space right outside the back door – and I took it. Last week, they made a sign for my space. While I am not sure the sign is official HUM-issue, it says “Reserved: Pastor Gary DRSS.” Actually, I think it kind of sounds important and makes me look pretty good. But, around here – we all know the real truth.
One Day at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers