Intensely Spiritual…but Completely Natural

Some people think preachers aren’t real people. Some preachers don’t come across as real people. The pastor of my home church always wore a suit. No, really. I mean always. I saw him working on his house one day wearing a coat and tie. I prayed (and I wasn’t even saved at the time), “Dear God, don’t make me be a preacher. They’re weird.”

Every time he came into my dad’s drugstore, he was wearing a suit. It could have been 7:00pm, and he had that suit on. We lived on the Gulf Coast. In the summer it was ninety degrees, and the humidity was higher than that. You could sweat sitting down. He never came in without a suit.

I remember having a discussion with my youth minister James Miller about this. I was in the car with him one day and I asked him if he was really a preacher. When he asked why, I said, “Because you don’t always wear a tie.” He said something like, “So if I don’t wear a tie or my shirt collar backwards, you don’t think I’m a minister?” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I do know that when I was growing up, he was my minister in good and bad times.

Some people expect the preacher to sit around singing psalms 24/7, read the Bible every waking moment, and pray during the in-between times. When I first came to Sherwood, Terri and I went to see a movie at the local theater. We ran into some young people from the church who were shocked to see me there. They said (and I quote), “We didn’t know preachers watched movies.”

I found that reaction amusing if it hadn’t been so unreal. Was the ministry portrayed to those young people in such a way that the preacher didn’t seem real? The facade of perfection doesn’t help anyone and deceives no one. Being known for what you are against more than what you are for is not New Testament.

For too long Christians have had this idea that preachers aren’t human. I know why. Preachers for too long have portrayed themselves as having it all together. The attitude comes out something like this: “If you were as good as me, you wouldn’t have any problems.” Yeah, right. Let me talk to that preacher’s kids, and I bet I’ll get another side to the story.

I believe a pastor, or a Christian for that matter, needs to be intensely spiritual and completely natural. I don’t understand when preachers change their voices when they get in the pulpit. I don’t understand when we get wrapped up in the externals rather than the internals. God judges the heart, not whether we’re wearing a suit or watching a movie. Of course, there are certain movies we shouldn’t watch, but you get my point.

I remember one day seeing Adrian Rogers out jogging. The pastor who was with me said, “I didn’t know Adrian jogged.” I’m trying to figure out why that was a revelation to him. I loved to hear Ron Dunn talk about how he and Kaye would spend Fridays going to as many movies as they could. I would imagine it was a good mental break for Ron after being in church four days a week doing conferences. After listening to some church people, you need to go see a good shoot-em-up once in a while. Ron was as deeply spiritual as anyone I ever met, but he was down-to-earth as well.

The key is balance. I know people who are surprised to know that Vance Havner and Lehman Strauss had a great wit about them. I heard someone comment to Warren Wiersbe that they were surprised he used so much humor in his sermons. Apparently some people think serving God means a sour disposition or a somber spirit. As I’ve thought about it, some of the godliest men I know are great practical jokers and joke tellers and have an incredible sense of humor.

On the other hand, I know some legalists and preachers who take themselves way too seriously, who look like they are sucking lemons and stuck in a straightjacket. They wouldn’t know how to lighten up if they were on Demerol. Guys like that give me the creeps.

Read the Gospels. You’ll never find Jesus wearing a lily white robe—that’s something Hollywood did. You find Him at a feast, at a wedding, at the festivals, being invited to people’s homes. The sinners received Him gladly. He was sinless, but He wasn’t a stick in the mud. I think the Lord enjoyed life. Many of His parables are laced with sarcasm and humor.

Have we forgotten that we are to take the Lord seriously and not take ourselves so seriously? Quit trying to look like a preacher or a Christian. Just be like Jesus…people will like you better.

Honesty is good for the soul and bad for the reputation, but let’s be honest. Okay, I’ll be honest. I get ticked off when I hit a bad golf shot (and I’ve hit a lot of them in my day). I’ve been known to write the name of a cantankerous member on a golf ball and hit it in the lake on purpose. I know that’s not spiritual and I ought to be better than that. Pray for me.

I like to watch TV and listen to oldies music (I can understand the words). I’ve danced with my wife and daughters and pulled a few practical jokes in my life. I like a good comedy, enjoy a good movie, eat foods my doctor wouldn’t approve of, and am very competitive and want to win no matter what the game. I’ve been known to read MAD Magazine. I like to see the bad guys get what’s coming to them. I’ve spanked my girls, and Terri and I don’t always agree. I own several pistols. I love DisneyWorld, I like a good Broadway show, and I yell at ball games when I probably should be quiet.

I want to love Jesus more and serve Him better. I want to be more like Him tomorrow than I am today. I want to keep growing as long as God gives me breath. I’m not perfect, but I do hope I’m real. Warren Wiersbe’s biography is entitled Be Myself. I love Warren because he’s comfortable in his own skin. I’m comfortable in mine. Please let me keep it. If you don’t agree, don’t skin me, just pray for me. One day, I might grow up to be as spiritual as you are.

13 thoughts on “Intensely Spiritual…but Completely Natural

  1. Thanks for that. I remember my pastor when I was a teenager was actually laying brick in a 3-piece suit in July. In all fairness he did take the jacket off eventually. Like you I never saw him not wearing a tie (or, at least I don’t remember him not wearing a tie). I thought that all pastors had to dress that way all the time. It was a real stumbling block for me, particularly after I felt the call to be a pastor.

    I have endeavored to be transparent with my congregation as much as possible. I have confessed sin and sought their forgiveness when the Lord speaks to me of my sins against the congregation. It has helped my ministry and shocked some, if not most.

    Pastors are human. We enjoy the same things other people enjoy. Yes, we must be an example of a disciplined Christian but we must also be an example of a joyful Christian taking pleasure in God’s creation and the gifts He provides. Sometimes we forget that.

    Thank you for another insightful article. I will see you @ ReFRESH IN the Smokies.

  2. GREAT STUFF! We often need to be reminded God works from the inside out. I try to look my best when representing My King, be it behind the pulpit (usually in a suit) or on a street corner (usually not in a suit), but I refuse to get caught up in someone else’s expectations of how I should dress. I am most concerned with God’s expectations of how I should live. I love the “don’t skin me” part, by the way. It is sure to be repeated by me at some point! LOL!

  3. this is charity louden
    i love to read this and it is the truth
    and so real testomny about you micheal catt
    my pastors do that to he sometime he don’t
    wear a tie but he steal praching the word
    of GOD like you micheal catt he love the LORD to here is my chrch E- MAIL http://WWW.GRACE CHAPEL CHURCH OF GOD.COM micheal catt love charity dawn louden

  4. Thank you Pastor Catt for making me laugh out loud. Haven’t laughed much lately. I have never really had a close and personal relationship with any pastor, i have always watched from a distance behind the shadows.The only pastors who have ever made a big impression on me were an elderly couple from Chicago who came to Africa to do missionary work during my childhood. They made being a Christian such a majestic beauty, they made it look easy,effortless and such profound joy. They had a huge heart for Africa and when they left for India i was heart broken.
    The typical modern day African pastor is flamboyantly wealthy. My immediate former pastor lived in a house that resembled a 5 star hotel, it would make normal laymans’ home look like…hobbo junction! He owned 2 Haley Davidsons(Those must have cost a fortune) and he drove the latest Range Rover Sport. He holidays in exotic destinations and his children study in foreign nations. I stayed in the faith during my bitter childhood years, the turbulent teenage period and when i finally emerged into early adulthood nihilism had settled in my heart like a sediment. I was finally faltering and when i was doing so my pastor had branched into real estate and was planning to acquire a private jet.
    I think in Africa a pastor is under pressure to personify Gods’ “blessings”. I mean you can’t sell Gods’ success if you don’t walk in it right? The contrast is even more stark when they live in a third world country,packed with impoverished countrymen who live on less than a dollar a day. I think pastors in my eyes are larger than life figures, they are to be envied afterall. I have always had the expectation that pastors MUST have a generous spirit and a higher perspective of humanity than ordinary people. I can’t expect more!
    Pastor Catt you are very real and as human as they come. Very refreshing! God bless you.

    From Africa with love,
    Langat Kibet
    Nairobi,Kenya(East Africa)

  5. Forgot to mention that pastors here can only be seen on appointment! They don’t share elevators with anyone and they have burly bodyguards to contain any shenanigans. Can’t say much about their spirituality, if it’s intense or not, but their vanity is the only fatal human flaw they possess naturally!

    Kind Regards
    Langat Kibet
    Nairobi,Kenya(East Africa).

  6. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for all the godly people in the world that serve God with their whole heart! The way we dress is to be modest and I understand why there are some that wear suits all the time. Everyone has their personal convictions and who are we to sit back and look at someone who happens to have deeper convictions than ourselves. I understand what you are saying completely!

    My prayer is for Christians to not look upon those that are trying to be closer to God. Christians should listen to the Holy Spirit to lead them in a life that will truly bring Glory to the King! My prayers are with all. I thank God for Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. How mighty God can move if someone is willing.

    Since I have accepted Jesus as my Savior I only listen to music that lifts Him up and movies that are clean: no cussing, nakedness, or anything to dishonor my Father, which is in Heaven.

    Praise God for his wonder working Power!!!
    God Bless!

    Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    2 Corinthians 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

    2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

    2 Corinthians 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

  7. I made up this quote about me many years ago, I say it to my children often and I live by it. (I am the only human I know) I still say it today and they are grown, my daughter still does not get it. But I see you do, thanks for the encouragement and your message. May God Bles us all, even with our short comings!

  8. It’s great when you know a preacher before he became a preacher!!! The facade is less intimidating!! I find some women treat me differently and feel they have to talk about the Bible when they are around me because they think I am not like them because I travel and speak and teach. I believe often it is because they want to believe there is something bigger than they are…and there is. That is why I so much want to show them the perfection of my Savior and the imperfections of this servant so they will be drawn to Him. That is what John the Baptist meant….He must increase and I must decrease!!
    Thanks! Also thanks for not always wearing a tie…even in MS!!!

  9. Pastor Catt , what about pastor’s wives & children ? I have been both and I felt at times like I should live in a bubble and not have any fun, I am sorry but that will not happen , I can have fun in the Lord probably more than a secular person can , I believe in enjoying life . Thanks for this article & God Bless !!!!

  10. This made me chuckle… I remember the first time you showed us an album cover of The 2nd Chapter of Acts and they were wearing jeans and there wasn’t a cross to be seen. (Almost unheard of then) Now that I think of it, you wore jeans in the church building back then too. Great thoughts…

  11. Gee Michael, I had forgotten that conversation. Thanks for refreshing my aging memory. Love ya always!!!!!!


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