Showing My Faith

As a pastor I feel a special burden and opportunity to share my faith with other people. The question is how?

On Sunday mornings I wear an academic robe and a stole to remind me who I am and whose I am, that I speak not for myself but for the whole church, and that the whole church is present with me.

But what about Monday through Saturday? How should I show my faith then?

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them;
for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:1 (NRSV)

When people find out I am a pastor for the first time conversations tend shift to either deep theological questions should my new acquaintance have a relationship with a church or, when they don’t go to church, our conversation shuts down as if I had announced that I had a communicable disease. Hence I do not usually wear a cross pendant or lapel pin. I want people to get to know me before they find out I am a pastor. Especially people who do not attend church.

License Plate with caption Wearing one’s faith where everyone can see it —bumper sticker, pin, pendants, earrings— has other burdens as well as opportunities. To some extent I wear the stain of pastors who have been caught in various scandals. When a car bearing a special license plate or bumper sticker speeds around me then cuts me off, they send a message about all of Christianity. On one hand by wearing such external emblems I hope I would show the best of what the church has taught me. On the other hand I wonder how my actions will tell my faith story on my worst day; when I am caught up in some urgent crisis or distracted by unrelated issues. I fear that person who does not go to church thinking: “l don’t want to associate with people like that.”

Necklass with crosses either side of a stone.
Creative Commons license http://art.thewalters.org/license/

I wonder about using the cross as an ornament.  Does that cheapen God’s sacrificial love? Use it in vain? What does this say about my faith? Would I seem overly pious or mocking of those who sincerely believe?

Should I pray aloud in public, or quietly pause and listen for God in silence?

Instead I hope my faith shows through my actions, taking time to know those with whom I speak and present myself.

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