Every time I see this picture of Rowan Atkinson, I can’t help but chuckle.
And although a part of me bristles when I see the clergy lampooned, another part of me knows that it is sometimes well-deserved. Attorneys tell me the same thing about lawyer jokes.
Jokes and comedy are often rooted in perception; Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show survives on such perception, and there are many like myself who often watch it in lieu of the evening news because it tends to be more honest! I’m one of those persons who has become politically cynical, and I find myself laughing uncontrollably (and nodding my head in agreement) when I watch the program.
But I realize that there are a lot of folks who have become cynical about the faith, too. We clergy are often to blame for that: we can be pompous, arrogant, self-righteous, and aloof. At times I find myself falling into roles that are less pastoral and more managerial. Would Jesus call himself a CEO, or allow Peter to place that after his name on his business cards? I think not.
In all fairness, clergy have to balance a lot of roles, but the key word is balance. If we’re coming across to others as just managers/CEO-types, we’ve got some work to do. Likewise, if we’re only theologians and allow administration, program, and finance to go by the wayside, we’ve failed. We are priests, evangelists, and prophets, and have to be in touch with the Spirit and the world to see what our role is at the given time.
The term Professional has lost some of its meaning, but it firmly has a place among the clergy: we profess Christ and profess our faith as servant leaders in the Church. In the best definition of the term, we owe it to those we serve to be professional. That might be our best combat against cynicism and apathy toward the Faith.