To put a bow on things, or at least my conclusion as a regular member of my church.
I was sincere during my time as a Christian.
I went hard for Jesus. I argued and defended the word even against my own mother.
But to be honest, I was backslider.
Right before I joined the navy I began to slip. I’m not sure who could be reading this who can relate to what I’m about to say but the pressures of being a minister, especially a young minister can be a hard road to navigate.
For a 17-year-old kid with a lot of ambition and yearning for acceptance and attention, as I look back, I took on more than I could handle.
Being a minister comes with an element of power that’s a gift and a curse.
It takes a high maturity level to handle the position. People look to you for hope and spiritual guidance. Their respect for the position comes with a constant magnifying glass if you will.
There looking to feel you. There looking for your sincerity. Because you’re a minister, there looking up to you and believe that because you are a minister your relationship with God is more insightful than there’s.
As a minister, they see you as a direct line to God that they don’t have for themselves.
This is why the position, as gratifying as it can be, can be extremely delicate.
I preached my first sermon at 17. I got my Minister’s License at 18. I was ordained at 19.
By nature, I’m a performer. I love being the center of attention. I was invited to preach at a couple of churches during my time.
It seemed like people were enamored at witnessing such a young person speak on the word of God so boldly. I studied. I had confidence. I was taught well and could be charismatic.
I vividly remember a time my church received an invitation from another local church. They had what was called a “Word of God Night”. They invited certain preachers from other churches to all preach on the same night.
At that time, my pastor’s son, who was promoted to assistant pastor had received an invitation to preach and wanted to bring me along and give me a space on the program with all the other preachers.
When it was my time to preach, I stood in the pulpit and began to speak. I can’t remember all that I said but what I do remember was how the audience was looking and responding to me. Some looked as though they saw something they had never seen before. Who is this kid coming out of nowhere speaking bold with confidence and preaching as though he had been doing this for years?
I’m in no way trying to toot my own horn but I felt that people were shocked and surprised of what they were witnessing.
I got so wrapped up in the moment that I had to be reminded that I went over the allotted time but I felt that had the people really demanded for me to continue no one would have had a complaint.
It was a high and I was feeling myself.
If being a minister only entailed that element and I wanted to continue in that line of work, I could have reached incredible levels.
However, a great performance has nothing to do with God if you’re in the service of helping individuals save their souls.
People have real life problems and want guidance. It’s great to be able to put words together and connect with people emotionally but when folks have issues in their marriage and come to a minister for counseling, feel good words and charisma won’t cut it.
If your sincere in your walk with God and happen to be a preacher, your number one objective should be a person’s soul and bringing them to Christ.
I was sincere and took it very seriously. However, I was still an 18, 19-year-old kid.
I had a car and because I was working a steady job it put a few dollars in my pocket. I’m not Denzel but I’ve been told that I’m not that hard of a guy to look at.
Here I am. An 18, 19-year-old kid. Single. Hormones out of control. I’m supposed to be a holiness preacher. I’m supposed to be an example. I’m not supposed to do what everyone else is doing. I’m supposed to be saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. But I’m also human.
That’s where my slip began.
Question? If you continue to tell your child to not touch the stove when your cooking, how long do you think it will take before the child reaches to touch the stove?
If your constantly telling a bunch of young individuals, who happen to be in church every week, that it’s better to marry then to burn who are humans, that have the same bodily functions as people outside of the church, and have no other outlets to help them sustain…… What do you think will happen after a period of time?
You see these same people every week. Sometimes 2 to 5 times a week.
People get attracted to one another. For lack of a better word they get horny.
They’re constantly told so much of what they shouldn’t do, 9 times out of 10, they do it anyway. It’s human nature.
I loved God, wanted to do the right thing, but I was still a man.
I went out on dates telling myself I was looking for a wife but honestly wanted sex. Trying to suppress those human desires was a challenge that no, I couldn’t overcome, and I’ll just leave it at that.
The guilt of that, and the pressures of trying to be this holy preacher who everyone was looking at, whether they were looking to see me succeed or fail was too much for a young man in my position to handle.
With the conviction in my heart I was feeling, and missing several weeks at a time, I stopped going to church. I felt two different ways. One, I felt guilty for not going to church but two, I kind of felt a relief from not going. I didn’t have to answer to anyone. I didn’t have to be so holy. I started listening to rap music and watching boxing again. I saw old friends that I missed.
I felt at home and back to myself if you will. There was a period of time between me not going to church and my entry to the navy that I did go back to visit.
I went back to make the announcement that I joined the navy. I had been through a lot. Between my mom and dealing with other aspects of the church and the position, and the position itself, it was overwhelming.
I wanted to say my peace and hopefully things could be brought to a positive closure in a way. Now when I say closure, I don’t mean that I had the intention of never going to church again. But I did need a break. I started to get excited about going into the navy and the possibilities of what was going to happen and hell, I just wanted guilt free sex. Lol.
I wanted more money than I was making. After talking to a recruiter, it peaked my interest to travel the world while doing it for free.
I couldn’t deal with being minister anymore and constantly having this pressure of not being able to enjoy certain things that in my heart I couldn’t see anything wrong with and if I was seen participating in whatever it may be, getting criticized or having some weird comment thrown my way was becoming more of an annoyance.
If I were to be technical about it, the only real difference between myself as a minister and the members of the church was me preaching on Sundays and them not. The actual lifestyle aspect of it, not participating in various worldly activities like sports and circular music, and sex before marriage are rules that everyone should abide by whether there in the pulpit or not.
Apparently other members felt that because I was a preacher, I had less room for error. A bit unfair but I guess that’s just part of the hypocrisy and holier than thou culture of what we call church.
Forgive me for that last comment but living holy is supposed to apply to everyone across the board regardless of position.
Sorry for the digression.
Anyway, the thought of facing my church to let them know that I had joined the military was difficult to say the least.
My pastor and assistant pastor invested lots of time and even money on certain occasions.
They were proud of me and looked at me as a great example and person to reach the younger members of the church.
Almost every week my pastor would brag about me openly during services speaking on my dedication and love for God, and for me to stop suddenly and not have a real conversation with him or at least express my intentions to the church just wouldn’t be right. I felt I owed him at least that.
My plan was to tell the church and then have the conversation with him. What I should have done was have the conversation with him first then tell the church but like I said, I missed quite a few weeks and got to a point where I was a bit ashamed to reach out to him.
I felt alone and didn’t want to reveal this sinful life id been living. I didn’t know who I could have confided in.
Having a talk with my pastor about sex seemed completely off the table and you know what, I didn’t think I was all that wrong nor was it any of his business in the first place.
I was the embodiment of good and bad at the same time. Or maybe that’s a bit harsh of an analogy but being human does bring that element into play whether you’re a person who chooses a religious lifestyle or not. That chapter of me going to church was over however, never going back wasn’t an option either. I felt at some point, Id return. When I was more mature, possibly when I had settled down and found a wife.
If I were to preach again, I’d want to be a more disciplined, responsible person. Like I said, the position is one I take very seriously.