“So… what do you do for a living?” This question used to not bother me much when I played music as my main job because pretty much everyone likes music. So as careers go being a musician is a pretty non-confrontational kind of answer and usually gets a conversation going in a good direction. But now I’m a pastor and the reaction is a little different when I mention what I do for a living. Truth be told, most of the time I actually hate answering the question because all of the sudden the person who asked starts acting noticeably different like apologizing for having just said a curse word moments before or for smoking a cigarette in front of me or feeling like I need an explanation for why this person hasn’t been to church in a long time. Other times when I answer this question I will get a very antagonistic response as if I have suddenly become the enemy in our brief conversation because the person does not have a very fond view of the church or religion.
So I have tossed around ways of answering this question so as to disguise the fact that I am a professional Christian or at least framing it in a more hospitable light. One pastor I met has business cards that say community organizer. I liked that one but I am afraid that folks would then feel I was being less than sincere if they found out that what I meant by community organizer was simply – pastor. I’ve thought about the term spiritual guide but it sounds a bit too new age (which would work well if I wore my snuggie around more. One lady referred to me as “The Dancing Preacher” after one message I gave several months ago where I came out dancing to “If I was a rich girl” (you had to be there to understand… really… it seemed cool at the time… really) and I thought that might make an interesting business card (it might pose all kinds of other problems though).
Well once again this question came up last night at a party one of our neighbors was having. After a brief internal cringe I answered the question with “I'm a pastor” and a discussion about Baptists and Catholics and singles groups and alcohol and bingo ensued. Actually the conversation wasn’t all that bad and no one was antagonistic or defensive. I guess sometimes I would like to be normal or at least be able to have a normal answer as to what I do for a living but I guess that’s like Hollywood actors complaining about how everybody is always watching them and how it is hard to have a private life (Would you like some cheese with that whine?). Maybe this is simply the struggle that all people of faith have about going public with who they are, what they do, or what they believe. Any thoughts? I would love some insight on creative ways to answer this question or how you’ve struggled in answering similar questions yourself.