I have sung in public twice in my life, my first and my last. I was in a trio when I was about eight-years-old and it was my introduction to church life. The Music Lady, who was "The Church Lady's" sister, said, "It wasn't as bad as it sounded." I decided to be a psychologist.
I was a preacher's kid and I lived in a sanatorium, I mean, pastorium. Our family lived at the church with a cemetery in the backyard. My backyard was a cemetery! I decided to be a psychologist. The deacons would come over and inspect our house, which was actually their house. At that point I developed a real attitude toward self-righteous deacons and critics. And to this day, if you ask me what to do with a group of church critics up to their necks in cement, I'll say, "Get more cement."
The finance committee thought God fed us with manna in the backyard. The personnel committee thought a vacation was three days at the Baptist Convention in a half-star hotel. I think it was called Motel 3. I decided to be a psychologist.
My dad pastored mainly small churches. When he said, "Dearly beloved," some of the ladies got embarrassed. The problem with small churches is a small group can create big problems. I decided to be a psychologist.
My dad seemed to work all the time; he was always at the church. I knew he had been spending too much time at church when he told me at dinner that I couldn't have any honey unless I ate all my locusts. I decided to be a psychologist.
My dad wasn't highly educated, but a lot of people came to him with problems. Most of the time he would quote a Bible verse and pray with them. I thought these people needed professional help. I decided to be a psychologist.
So I did; I served an internship and received a Ph.D. I was a real shrink. I even grew a beard and smoked a pipe. I studied with great professionals. The man who taught marriage counseling was on his third marriage. The professor who taught addiction behavior told me there wasn't much hope for someone on dope. The Mental Health Clinic staff seemed to have more problems than the patients. Then, I remembered the families that were put together again, and those little churches, and the people who were able to give up drugs and alcohol; all the lives changed through that preacher man.
Slowly, over time, God worked in my heart, and at age 42, I accepted the call to pastor my first church and become a preacher man. Dad was able to see the church before he died. He said my office was bigger than his first church. I told him my plan was to start at the top and work down. Then I told him I was able to pastor here because of his faithfulness and because I was the son of a preacher man.
I'm not as professional as I used to be, no more beard, although it did cover a multitude of chins. I laid down the pipe and picked up The Power. I guess my only regret is my dad can't see me doing things I watched him do. I guess I'll wait to tell him. He won't believe it when I tell him about Caller I.D. He had to answer all those phone calls from all those negative people. I can just look at the name and think, "You have to be kidding, I'm not talking to you." I could even give him some advice about things I've learned. For example, cutting the number of deacon meetings from twelve to six solves half your problems. I guess you noticed I still get a little nervous around certain deacons — only because I was the son of a preacher man.
Charles Lowery is pastor of Hoffmantown Church, Albuquerque, N.M., www.charleslowery.com