Choosing to Be a Church Pastor as a Career Path, Not as a Calling

I am currently fascinated by this concept in America: In theory, a man who is not actually a believer could choose the profession of being a church pastor; not because he believes in the teachings of Christianity or that he is being called by God to do so, but instead, simply because he sees being a church pastor as a promising career path.

Church pastors have to make a living, too, you know. They have families to support. The tricky part is this, though: The salary that a pastor earns is often directly related to the size of his congregation.

Not only is there a salary to consider, but often, the church members’ tithes cover the pastor’s insurance, as well as a housing stipend.

Here’s what the career path looks like:

This man goes to seminary. This man graduates seminary.

Man starts pastoring a small country church and remains there two years, as he builds a reputation as “an engaging speaker and a strong leader, just what this church needs” (largely due to the fact he simply has the right personality for the job and is a good communicator); while using clever social media posts to build his reputation. The money isn’t amazing, but it pays the bills.

Word gets out, and now this man is offered a position at a larger church in a bigger town just an hour away: This one even has two church buses and even a humble sized “life and recreation center”. The money is definitely better and there is now basic insurance available.

He puts in three years at this one before his reputation (and his congregation’s perception of the Lord’s calling) sends him to the suburbs of a decent sized city; like Atlanta, Indianapolis, or Houston.

His church now has a dozen members in the worship band alone. His sermons get thousands of views on YouTube. The pastor even has a popular Instagram account which regularly features his high dollar sneaker collection; even if most of those shoes were given to him as publicity by the shoe companies to promote their brand.

By this point, it’s hard to speculate exactly how much money this pastor actually makes; but given all the perks with his career, it doesn’t matter as much anymore.

For example, he gets paid thousands of dollars per event, to travel and speak at other churches.

He even has his own book out, which he earns all the royalties from. So even without depending on the church itself, his side hustles help provide an extra cushion for him and his family.

As long as this man is smart enough to invest in his marriage, ultimately by avoiding cheating on his wife or getting divorced; and as long as he never involves himself in official financial scandal, like embezzlement or tax evasion, his career remains strong.

He retires in his mid 50’s and lives happily ever after. He totally gets away with “serving” as a church pastor for his entire career. Then, he peacefully dies in his sleep at age 78; having lived quite comfortably the past 30 years on his financial investments. Not to mention, he still has millions of dollars in the bank to leave for his family.

But then what?

I bet there are more of these “career path pastors” then we realize. In the end, though, we all answer individually to God at the end of our lives for our own actions:

For how we cared for the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.

For how we treated our neighbors as ourselves.

For how we made the decision to forgive, even when it didn’t make sense from a human perspective.

For how we worked out our own secret sins (gossip, judging others, apathy for the hurting), as opposed to focusing more on the ungodly tendencies of other people who have didn’t temptations than we do.

But I suppose that is a risk these career path pastors are willing to take; given that they don’t actually have to believe in order to successfully pastor a church.

Uh oh… I think I just accidentally wrote the concept for a screenplay for a Christian movie starring Kirk Cameron, Sean Astin, or Nicolas Cage.

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As One of the Few Known Men on Earth Under Age 40 Who Has Never Seen Porn, I Am Currently Mentoring Younger Men Who Are Addicted to It; From a Psychological Perspective; Not a Religious or a Moral Viewpoint, Nor in a Judgmental Way

Back in 2014, researchers in Canada were attempting to compare the behavior of men who watch pornography regularly, with men who have never seen pornography at all. However, they were unable to find one man who had never watched pornography.

Too bad they didn’t know I existed, because I would have been perfect for their study.

I understood from the very beginning, as a preteen, that viewing such unrealistic images and ideas of women would ultimately psychologically rewire my brain, potentially like the equivalent of a computer virus.

To me, it was always beyond religion and morality. It was always about psychology instead.

It’s true, I’ve never looked at, nor watched, pornographic material. I’ve had multiple opportunities, when no one else was around, but I can’t really say it was ever a true temptation to me.

I have always been fundamentally opposed to the idea.

On my main YouTube channel which officially crossed the 4,000 subscriber mark last month, I serve as a mentor and life coach, helping younger, insecure balding men realize that their identity and how attractive they are to women actually has a lot more to do with confidence, kindness, and skill sets.

Recently, I discovered a subtle trend in which my subscribers were openly talking in the comments section, about looking at and watching pornography. Then I made the connection:

Why is it that some guys go bald young and it doesn’t seem to affect their confidence at all (and therefore they don’t watch my channel), yet others barely show any signs of hair loss but they freak out about the possibility of going bald on a daily basis?

The answer: Most of my subscribers are in their teens and twenties, meaning that they’ve grown up with unlimited access to pornography online, during those crucial years of developing their sense of identity and building confidence in who they are. (The Internet went mainstream in 1997, before most of these guys were even born.)

Compare that to me, a guy who has never looked at or watched pornography.

It makes sense now why my YouTube channel “about hair loss” is so popular: It’s really a YouTube channel that helps young men who may be experiencing hair loss, which is quite common, who are also addicted to or at least regularly exposed to pornography, overcome their insecurity issues; taught from a 37 year-old man who was never psychologically corrupted in the way they have been.

So I began making some videos addressing, and testing, this pattern I was seeing.

Those videos became some of my most popular and received more thumbs up than my other videos.

Some of my viewers confirmed I was correct: That regularly looking at and watching pornography has crushed their ability to be confident in themselves and only reinforces their insecurities about the concept they are experiencing hair loss; or at least, think they are.

To test my theory, I made a video in which I predicted in the title, that 99% of my subscribers were addicted to pornography. I stated in the video that if I were wrong, that out of my 4,000 subscribers, more than 40 would leave a comment proclaiming they do not consume pornography either.

Instead, only 2 people left a comment saying that. So yeah, over 99%.

I then theorized that many of my viewers were drawn to pornography due to some unnamed psychological trauma they experienced as a child (like being abused, their parents divorcing, a close family member dying, etc.), and they never got the proper counsel with a psychiatrist that they needed.

So that childhood trauma was never dealt with or even acknowledged, which psychologically set a pattern in their mindset to be anxious about things they have no control over: like hair loss.

I discovered this connection after reading an article on Huff Post that found the common theme among people who suffer from anxiety or depression is that they live with unresolved psychological trauma from their childhood.

Turns out, men who were overly obsessed with hair loss fit into this category as well.

I consider myself a missionary to the mainstream.

The way I see it, I was put on this Earth to serve others. If I can help thousands of insecure, pornography-addicted young men to acknowledge that pornography is killing their confidence and sense of identity, I can hopefully lead them to a decision to be pornography-free as I am, and eventually, overcome their trigger, which is hair loss.

I say, an attractive man is a confident man- and a confident man doesn’t tolerate the use of pornography in his own life.

So when I’m not being a Family Friendly Daddy Blogger, I’m serving as the host and life coach of a PG-13 rated YouTube channel to help mentor younger men.

It’s like my alter-ego.

Does Being a Parent Count as Working on the Sabbath?

Sunday is typically one of the most exhausting days for me; not that our family really does anything other than go to church, prepare and eat lunch, clean up, have the kids take a nap, clean the bathrooms and vacuum the carpet while they are asleep, prepare at eat lunch , clean up, and get the kids to bed.

Some might say that cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the carpet is considered work, and should not be done on the Sabbath. I totally get that.

However, it’s the only open window to get it done throughout the week, as Saturday typically is our day to run errands and do grocery shopping.

More fundamentally though, for me, it’s hard to differentiate how cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the carpet is more work than managing my kids. In fact, I’d say that managing my kids all day with my wife is more work than cleaning the house for an hour.

I’d even say that cleaning the house provides a bit of a break from being a parent. It gives me some time to not be needed by another human being for an hour. At least I can be in deep in thought, even though I am scrubbing toilets.

With both of my kids still being young (age 1 and age 6), taking care of them is truly a pleasure and a reward, but it’s also exhausting. It’s nonstop work from 6:30 AM until my wife and I fall asleep at 9:30 PM.

Whether a person acknowledges the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday, I still see irony in the concept of trying to refrain from work on that day; as a parent.

Chilling out at the house all day with the family, when half of your family is dependent on the adults, is work.

It’s not resting or relaxing when I am having to remind my kids they are hungry or tired or bored, because that’s the reason they acting the way they are, and then having to feed them, help them get to sleep, or help entertain them.

As long as my kids are still young, I just think I’ll have to work on every Sabbath.

Why My Next Car Will Have a Metallica Sticker on the Back Window, Not a Christian Fish Symbol

Whenever I eventually do trade in my 2004 Honda Element for a newer SUV with a 3rd row seat, I have already decided I will not be putting a “nice dad” sticker on my back window: No stick figure family, no logo from my kid’s school, not even a Christian fish symbol.

It’s Nashville. I’m a commuter from a bedroom community. I typically spend a minimum of about 2 hours a day, navigating through chaos from the congested back roads to the often stand-still Interstate.

Being perceived by other drivers as a “nice guy” is not what I’m interested in when I’m on I-65 or Columbia Pike. Otherwise, I’d be in danger of also being perceived as a hypocrite in other drivers’ eyes when I am either driving too fast or too slow for their liking.

Other drivers’ personal perception of my driving ultimately serves a reflection of the legitimacy of whatever sticker is on my car.

Yeah, I know that sounds obtuse and illogical. But it’s true…

If a non-Christian driver perceives that I selfishly pulled out in front of him, then sees a Christian emblem on my car, that driver is placed in a position where he can theorize: “There’s another one of those self-centered, hypocritical Christians! Why would I ever want to be like them?”

Instead, I’d rather be known as the guy who other drivers don’t have high expectations for. The easiest way I can think to accomplish this is to simply have one black sticker on my back windshield:

Metallica.

That way, when I have to hurry and pass another car real quick on the Interstate in order to reach the exit lane in time because of how congested all 4 lanes are, I’m not a jerk. Instead, I’m simply what they expect from a guy who listens to the legendary heavy metal band Metallica: I’m assertive, intimidating, and unpredictable.

However, when I do something courteous, like when another driver is trapped trying to make awkward turn and I let them in (which is something I do several times per day), and then I eventually catch up to them when that one single lane transitions to a double, and I’m now in the other lane and they can see the back of my vehicle…

Now, I’ve suddenly become the Good Samaritan. Why?

Because, hey, the Metallica guy was nice to me!

I’d rather be perceived as a nice Metallica fan rather than a “hypocrite” with a Christian fish symbol on my car. I

My ironic theory is that it’s easier for those fellow commuters to see the grace and kindness of a Christian when there is no Christian label, as I’ve learned that people naturally have higher expectations of Christians; meaning it’s also easier to be disappointed by Christians.

No one is disappointed by a guy who listens to Metallica. But as a commuter, I say the Metallica guy has got a better chance of being seen as a saint, compared to a guy with a Christian fish symbol on his car.

Dear Jack: You are Now Asking Me Questions about Baptism

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, I have to always be ready for serious, sincere questions; especially at times when I would least expect. That definitely was the case as we were driving back from the movies last Sunday.

Completely unrelated to our conversation discussing your favorite part of the movie, basically out of nowhere, you asked me this: “Daddy, will we see your Grandma in Heaven?”

That set up the next question, “Daddy, what will Heaven be like?”

And that led to, “Will we see Jesus in Heaven?”

Then, “If Jesus is God, then are they one person or two?”

And then, “Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven?”

That last question is the one you’ve been bringing up daily, since then. Last night, after we read your children’s Bible story about King Hezekiah (which actually was very interesting, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with), you asked me again about Heaven and baptism.

I have been explaining to you that being baptized is how we let everyone know that we believe Jesus is God’s son and that we trust in Him and thank Him for all we have in life. To answer your question, I pointed out that Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. However, any other time in the Bible a person believed in Jesus, they always got baptized afterwards.

For you, believing is the easy part.

It’s funny because for us, one of the ways we bond is when you show me your newest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards you traded that day at school. Some of the characters are called “gods”, yet you always immediately point out that there are false gods, like the idols people made in the Bible.

You always separate the “idols and false gods” from our God. I am truly impressed with your ability, as an almost 1st grader, to process that concept.

So whereas believing is the easy part, right now you are sorting out the details- the main one being this:

“Daddy, how long do I have to go underwater to get baptized?”

Turns out, you asked Mommy these same questions about baptism and Heaven, right after I left your bedroom last night, when she came in to say goodnight.

Now Mommy and I are planning to let you go to “big church” the next time they have a baptismal service; and take you to the front row so you can see exactly how it works.

It is an honor to teach you these things. I don’t want to rush you through your ongoing journey in the Christian faith. Instead, it’s important to me that you understand at your own pace, paced on my consistent guidance.

I simply have been sowing the seeds, by reading your stories from the children’s story Bible that my Grandma gave me 29 years ago. And you truly enjoy going to church, learning aside from we read together.

This is big stuff.

Love,

Daddy

I Try to Make a Point Everyday Not to Die

I Try to Make a Point Everyday Not to Die

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but I’m sort of obsessed with not dying.

In the trailer for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie, there is an interesting conversation:

Mr. Spock proclaims, “The fear of death is illogical.”

Captain Kirk replies, “The fear of death is what keeps us alive.”

Both men make brilliant points; and together, they present a perfect paradox:

The fear of death is illogical and yet it keeps us alive.

Now at age 35, happily married with a wife and 2 kids, a “real house”, and a solid career, my life is clearly settled.

I’m no longer trying to figure my life out like I was back in 2001 when John Mayer’s “Why Georgia” was such a relatable song; as he ponders his “quarter-life crisis” proclaiming, “I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life… Am I living it right?”

It’s inevitable that at some point, I am going to die, so it’s truly illogical to allow myself to believe otherwise.

I assume that for the human race, that mystery of not knowing for sure what happens the moment we die only adds to the fear of dying. I don’t fear death itself, though.

The moment I die, I’ll immediately know for sure whether my life of faith in Jesus as the Son of God was the right call.

If I was wrong about Christianity, I guess the worst that could happen is I’ll learn that ultimately I was simply part of some elaborate Matrix scheme inside somebody else’s head.

My fear isn’t of death itself or what happens after I die; it’s about missing out on my future in this life. My actual main motivation for not dying is simple and predictable:

There are 3 people are greatly depend on me for the rest are their lives.

Granted, I have a life insurance policy in place to pay off the house if anything happens to me. But beyond finances, I am motivated by the desire to finish out this storyline that has been set in place.

What started as a romantic comedy back on October 5, 2006 when I met my wife, has now evolved into a family sitcom.

I see the world through the eyes of a writer. So I, as the protagonist, can’t let myself die. I can’t just disappear right when the story is really getting good.

So what exactly do I do each day in an effort not to die?

Well, before I answer that, I quickly accept the fact that if the Lord decides to take me at any point, He can and He will, as Job told God:

“A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

So I get it that I could randomly have a brain aneurysm and that would be the end of it.

But I instead focus on what I can control, not what I can’t.

For example, I refuse to talk on the phone while I’m driving. I always wear my seat belt.

Plus, I know that as an American man, I’m much more likely to die from preventable health issues than anything else.

Unless I’m really proactive on my end, as a stereotypical male, I am especially in the running to die of a heart attack, diabetes, stomach cancer, or prostate issues.

Therefore, I run. I mountain bike. I take walks throughout the day.

I obviously don’t smoke.

And while it’s not a popular decision or lifestyle, especially as a masculine American man, I have committed to my vegan (and therefore vegetarian and kosher) lifestyle for years now.

Yeah, I get it. I could totally be setting myself up to be the Mr. Play-It-Safe who Alanis Morrisette speaks about in her classic song, “Ironic.”

It’s not that I’m not trying to overwrite God’s predetermined number of days for me. Instead, I am trying to outsmart the more subtle and predictable ways that as a man, I might die too young.

Therefore, I try to make a point everyday not to die.

I can only do much. But I can do some.

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

From your hundreds of Facebook friends, plus your dozens of coworkers and your handful of close friends and your immediate family, chances are… I’m the only vegan you know.

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

More specifically, even if you do actually happen to know another vegan, they probably are female; since 79% of vegans are women.

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

Therefore, by default, I am the most masculine vegan you know. I’ll talk more about that in a minute…

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

With about 2.5% of the American population being vegan, and only 21% of that group being male, it’s very clear that when it comes to my vegan lifestyle, I am in the minority.

To make myself even more of a rarity, unlike most vegans, I am not non-religious nor politically liberal. (I’m a Christian who is a Libertarian- which means I don’t endorse the Democratic nor the Republican Party, nor do I believe in forcing my religious beliefs on others.)

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

I am a very rare demographic. You likely don’t know any other vegan males in your social circle who are also both religious and non-political.

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, but Probably By Default

And somewhere in the midst of all these labels, I’m by default, still masculine. I promote healthy masculinity; in fact, it’s one of the themes of my blog: celebrating masculinity as a dad. Of course, I recognize that the definition of masculinity varies based on who you ask.

I’m the Most Masculine (and Rarest) Vegan You Know, By Default

No, I don’t hunt or fish; nor do I care about sports. Plus, I’m useless when it comes to home repairs…

But I do love exploring the forest with my son, taking him to monster truck events, testing out new cars, and mountain biking- to name a few of my rugged hobbies.

I’ve noticed how our society has collectively accepted the idea that eating meat (especially beef and bacon) is masculine. So imagine what a strange bird I am, being masculine, yet denying any reliance on pork (including bacon) or shellfish for the past 7 and a half years, nor meat for the past 4 and a half years, nor eggs and dairy for the past 3 years.

But my own definition of masculinity has more to do with my role in society; more importantly, within my family of four. I see true masculinity as a set of paradoxes that I’ve collected.

I will close by sharing my concept of masculinity, which aligns with the traits I aim for daily, as a husband and father; all of which are rooted in emotional intelligence. This is my creed of masculinity. In my imperfect human state, I strive for and meditate on these attributes:

Strong, yet loving. Disciplined, yet merciful. Leading, yet serving. Assertive, yet empathetic. Adventurous, yet grounded. Dangerous, yet protective. Hard-working, yet laid-back. Structured, yet creative. Committed, yet free. Confident, yet humble.

Veganism