The Dissolution of the Sacred / Secular Divide, Part 3: Ministry

During my lunch break the other day, I decided to go get a haircut. I don’t have a “usual” place I go for a haircut. Sunny says I’m a “spontaneous haircut-getter”; rather than making an appointment somewhere, I’m more liable to hit up Cost Cutters or some similar establishment more accommodating to “walk-ins”. This particular day was no different.

I walked in the front door of this local coiffure-ary, my arrival announced by the playful jingling of what appeared to be Christmas bells attached to the door handle. My entrance seemed to have startled the two stylists inside, for they each sprang to life and made their way to the front of the store to greet me. After entering my name and phone number into the computer (I still don’t understand why they need my number. Are they going to call me later? Is there going to be some big haircut sale next month that they’ll need to inform me about?), a seemingly cheerful young lady led me to her chair where she draped a smock over me and began about the business of lowering my ears.

After making an innocuous comment about the picture of her daughter taped to the mirror, I quickly realized that my barber had the gift of gab. She chatted me up, sharing an anecdote about her daughter and the new school she was attending. Inevitably, the discussion turned to the unbearable heat we’ve experienced here lately. I made some comment about how we’d had several days of 100 degree weather and how my grass was pretty much scorched. To my surprise, Chatty concurred with an expletive-laden response. It seems her grass was pretty “blanking” dead, too.

I’m not really used to being around conversational swearing, so I just kind of sat there for a second, stunned. I guess it really wasn’t that big of a deal; I just wasn’t expecting Chatty to drop the F bomb. As the conversation about the weather petered out, Chatty asked me if I had any children. After telling her that we have three-year-old twins and a newborn, I got another four letter exclamation.

Finally, Chatty asked me, “So what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a minister.”


Long pause. Like 8 seconds or so.

“Well…uhh…I go to church,” Chatty said, unconvincingly. Surprisingly, nary a four-letter word found its way into our conversation again. We actually had a good talk about Jesus and the kind of people he hangs around with.

A lot of my buddies in ministry have similar (and much funnier) stories. But all of this underscores how pervasive the sacred / secular divide is in our culture. We regard some individuals as “sacred” or “holy” or whatever, usually those who have the privilege of serving our local churches in some kind of paid capacity. Granted, some of us minister types have helped to perpetuate this line of thinking with our titles and power trips and arrogance. But there’s this “holy man” mentality that we sometimes can slip into that isn’t very helpful for true discipleship. Perhaps we think, I can’t talk that way around the preacher because it’s assumed that he holds some kind of sacred position while the rest of us are “ordinary”. I’m generalizing here, of course, but we seem to sell short the universal call for Christian ministry.

To that end, I think we’re better off drawing our definition of “minister” from the communal statement of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I’m not a minister because I work at a local church. I’m a minister because I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. The sacred / secular distinctions among us have not been placed there by God and they bring Him no honor. Instead, His vision is for His Kingdom to be made up of a nation of priests, an entire people belonging to Him and bearing fruitful ministry in His name in His creation.

May it be so for us in these days…

This entry was posted in Devotional, Discipleship, Sacred / Secular Divide, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Dissolution of the Sacred / Secular Divide, Part 3: Ministry

  1. -Lane says:

    Awesome story man. Great thoughts. Funny how God calls us to be a royal priesthood, even in a barber shop.

  2. Jason says:

    That passage from Peter has always been one of my favorites. For me, it’s one of those passages that’s formative for Christian identity.

  3. eyegal says:

    I read a book recently by Anne Lamott about faith in which she uses several expletives. I found myself wondering if she had any “standards” for her Christianity. Upon reflection, I realized that her standards were loving and being closely involved with poor people, homeless people, prisoners, and people unlike her. Gee…where did she get those? They are actually much more demanding and scriptural than my standards of living clean (language, being in the right place, hanging with good people, loving from a distance). Don’t you often wonder if Jesus would be accepted in our Southern Christian churches or would he be a little rough, language not quite right, dirty and too different to “fit in”. Bet you do hear a different world than some because of your “cloth”. Interesting!

  4. Jason says:

    Great points, Eyegal. I hesitated to publish this post for fear that it might sound a little preachy. It’s not that this lady’s language offended me (although I was pretty shocked when she started dropping a few of those bombs); I’ve heard language like that before. But it was odd how her language changed when she found out my profession. And my point is that my ministry goes deeper than the fact that I happen to work at a church. I think Peter would affirm that each of us are ministers. I often wonder how Jesus would fit in in our churches. I’m inclined to agree that he might not feel as comfortable as we’d like to believe. Anne Lamott is great by the way. If you like her stuff, you might try Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution.

  5. eyegal says:

    I didn’t think you sounded preachy…it used to be that people stopped cursing around women too. Of course, since this was a woman doing it and since you are not…anyway, I agree with your point that we’re all “ministers” thanks for the book suggestion!

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