A word I’ve never really been fond of.
“Pastor,” “Preacher,” neither of those words are terms I like.
They come with a lot of responsibility and expectations from people.
Crazy expectations like dont-be-a-human-that-has-feelings-shortcomings-desires-or-any-of-that-because-your-divinity-requires-you-to-be-all-things-holy-so-other-folks-will-feel-better-about-their…unholiness?
People expect you to be and act a certain way when you’re a “pastor” or “preacher.” It’s hard to shake — one of the reasons it took me so long to lean into the call on my life was because I didn’t want to be associated with those stereotypes. I didn’t want folks to feel like they have to pretend to be better people than they really are simply because I was there.
You know how it goes: you’re talking to someone and they drop the F-bomb. “OH MY BAD, PASSUH!” *does holy cross thingy to get right in front of the Lord’s holy representative.”
Or, when they visit your house to hang out and you offer them a drink: “I have water, milk, Capri Suns, and Merlot.” “YOU GOT LIKKA IN YOUR HOUSE, PASSUH?”
Or, my favorite, “You have a kid? How long have you been married?”
If you know my story, you know why that’s h i l a r i o u s.
See. That’s the reason I never wanted to be a “pastor” or “preacher.” Weird things happen.
In turn, I drop my own string of curse words (I’m good at that!) while sipping wine and tell my harrowing stories of dating as a single mom. You know, just for shock value.
I’ve always known I’ve had a call to ministry — I just wanted to do it my way. Not “my way” like I’m bucking God’s divine will, but my way that allowed me to be my most authentic self: a loud laughing, witty, tattooed, big-haired, Chuck Taylor wearing, organized chaos living, hopeless romantic yearning, Trap Music listening kind of authenticity.
I didn’t think that I could be that and take on the role, responsibility, or expectations that come with “pastor” or “preacher.” I don’t like it. I don’t want it.
Last night, while at church, I got a text from a friend who told me I had a letter addressed to me in the church office.
After service, I went and picked up the letter off the table. It was addressed to
Ms. Alisha Gordon
“Oh they’re being funny,” I thought.
I opened the envelope and it was a thank you card from someone who heard the sermon I preached on Valentine’s Day.
On the inside it was addressed to Pastor Gordon.
To be clear, I’m not a pastor by title. I’m not even an ordained minister in any denomination. I don’t have any robes, cloaks or any other “official” stuff. I just so happen to attend a church that has seen the gifts I have and has created a space for me to use them. I work the hell out of my M.Div. and life experiences by using God’s word to liberate people to make the faith as practical as possible.
If I wasn’t in a public space last night, I would have burst into tears.
This note to a “pastor” transcended all of my fears and weird feelings about what it means to be either pastor or preacher; it’s not about trying to navigate other people’s associations with the word or role. It’s about being my most authentic self — so people can find their own versions of authenticity. (And write handwritten notes about it as a result!)
And if by finding that freedom through me makes them want to call me “pastor,” that’s cool.
I’ll take that.
On the Chase,