I spent a year as chairman of the board of the local Chamber of Commerce. Don’t ask me how that happened. How on earth does a pastor become a local business organization leader?
I could tell you it was because I was easy pick’n. Or the only one around when the stock market crashed and the Chamber was bleeding members and money. Or I was a graduate of the Chamber’s leadership program. Who knows what their reason was?
Maybe it was because a pastor is well-trained in the nuances of human behavior. Someone that has spent a majority of their working life in churches has seen it all.
I remember the time I told one of our Chamber members that something I observed among our members reminded me of church. I can’t remember the issue, but I do remember his puzzled face. Probably because people with prejudices about church think that churches are unsophisticated confederations with nothing in common with business.
But I have a different view. I think that well-placed and attentive pastors have a lot to say to business and other parts of a community that can be very helpful. As long as it is delivered in courteous, respectful, and humble ways. In fact, when clouded by confusion, folks are often very welcoming to someone who has a “soft answer” to whatever is bedeviling them.
When it comes down to it, the Chamber isn’t a speck different than the church. Made up of flawed people looking for a way to make sense of an often chaotic world, it’s a perfect place for a savvy pastor to show up. Or a local non-profit. Or a citizens committee. Or a PTA.
I recently quietly resigned from the Chamber and my role with its Leadership program. New leadership has taken the Chamber’s helm, and their take-no-prisoners approach to leadership is reprehensible. But even in that I see echoes of my church experience. Poor church leaders can be just as bad. Déjà vu all over again.
An observant and smart church planter looks at a community and sees an orchard bursting with fruitful opportunities for service. And in that service it is not unusual to have someone ask a loaded spiritual question that begs for a wise answer.
I like to think that God is leading the way, providing what may appear to be menial service opportunities but which actually harbor curiosity, desperation, confusion, and a host of other human needs. Ready for a disciple’s insights.
This reminds me of church.