Thursday

The Arrogant Preacher

I've spent 35 years dealing with pastors as a member of a traveling music ministry, and nine years in the church insurance business. Most of the men I've dealt with have been great guys, dedicated to their churches and their ministries, humble and full of God's love. However, every now and then I've run into some guys who clearly were unsuited for the job. God must not have been paying attention if in fact he called these guys into ministry.

Such was the case with a pastor I dealt with in a Baptist church south of San Diego. I'll call him Pastor Arrogant.

We had had this church as a client for awhile under a different pastor, but sadly that pastor died suddenly and the church had the misfortune to hire Pastor Arrogant to replace him. When the church's policy came up for renewal, I had my first meeting with Pastor Arrogant both to introduce myself and explain the church's policies.

When I was ushered into his office I noticed an immediate change from the previous pastor. Instead of pictures of family and church activities, the walls were covered with various diplomas, certificates, and pictures of Pastor Arrogant doing different things. I immediately thought "this guy is pretty proud of himself". As soon as the conversation started it became clear that my first reaction was correct. Pomposity oozed out of the guy. He was the smartest guy in town and he wanted to make sure you knew it.

A few minutes into our rather one-sided conversation his cellphone rang and his wife was calling. I don't mind those kinds of interruptions, but he seemed to take great offense. He spoke to his wife in the most rude, condescending and disrespectful manner I've ever witnessed. I immediately developed a visceral dislike for Pastor Arrogant.

When I left the church I had already decided that I wouldn't make any special effort to retain the account. If he got a competitive quote, instead of pulling strings to try and get him a better deal, I'd let him go. That's exactly what happened. He called to tell me he had another quote, and I told him I couldn't improve our offer. He left and became somebody else's problem.

Over the next three years or so I got a couple of notes from marketing saying he wanted another quote, but I ignored them. After a few years he called in and I was kind of stuck. I set an appointment and went to meet him. When we first met he was fairly new in that church. The buildings were older and in need of upgrades and the crowd was dwindling. I figured as smart as he was that three years later he'd have a going operation down there and it might be worth taking another look at.

Wrong. He hadn't lost any of his arrogance, but he had lost something....half his congregation. The buildings weren't in any better shape, but his ego was doing just fine. To make ends meet he had taken his educational building and basically turned it into an office park for itinerant ministries. There were five other churches meeting in there including a Japanese church, an Hispanic church, a Filipino Church, a home school organization, and a church that specializes in bikers and former dopers.

I made a show of walking around and pretending to inspect the building, but I had no intention of providing a new quote for the guy. I never got back to him and he never called to check on a quote. A win-win.

I fully expect to read someday that Pastor Arrogant has lost his job due to a sex scandal. He's a textbook example of the kind of guy who ends up in those messes. If that doesn't get him his church will finally just disappear, and given that they had him for a pastor, it's probably just as well.




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