I was rebuked via Facebook Messenger for my post yesterday in which I commented on the relative affluence we enjoy in our suburban context. The author of this rebuke gave me permission to post it.
Hi Pastor Steve. I noticed your blog post today. I have been debating all day but I guess I will give in and give my two cents. Take them as you will. While your perspective is important and we all need to be aware of the gifts we have been given and the diseases of keeping up with the Joneses, I am a little surprised that you did not see the other someones perspective writing and posting something that might be perceived as judging and hurtful. The someone to whose bathroom you refer and used as a catalyst to start your list of abundances, might have made her life work of being a home maker and a stay at home mom. What some might think or consider is extravegant, is kind of her office and her job and ultimately her life’s work. What if someone came in to your office and looked at your degrees and diplomas and commented how many hungry kids could have been fed with the money that paid for them. I’m trying not to judge. But it kind of looks like a friend was invited to another friends home to celebrate an important event and you have used it for a catalyst for a blog about humility. I hope that you had a chance to talk honestly and frank about this with the person before using her as an example. Because otherwise, if it was me, I would be hurt. I just want to put that out there.
Allow me to respond.
First, I am honored that someone a) reads my blog, and b) would take the time to craft such a thoughtful response. Thank you.
Second, I agree. It was not my intent to shame anyone. I was simply attempting to be transparent with my own inner struggles. I need to be more careful with my words. I thought I acknowledged in the post that this was not a shaming accusation and that having a nice home in the suburbs is not a sin in itself and that tending for what we have is part of our vocation. However, I understand that the shaming words are always louder than the disclaimers. Please forgive my carelessness.
Third, regarding my education. Yes, that stung a little, because it is true. Many people have spoken out against the academy, calling it frivolous, pompous, self-serving, a furthering of the gap between the have’s and have-nots, etc. I agree. Some of my most respected academic mentors would also agree. The system is broken.
For the record, I did not pay for my own education. The church I served in Vegas paid for my M.Div. and I received a full scholarship plus a small stipend from Luther Seminary to earn the Ph.D. This point does not negate the fact that someone spent a lot of money on those credentials and that money could have fed and helped a lot of hungry people. In fact, Luther Seminary hit a financial crisis while I was studying there and cut the program because it was so expensive.
Fourth, I am curious to know how many other people I offended with my post. Feel free to leave comments. A blog is a dynamic document meant to spark conversations such as this. I blog regularly and usually in the morning. I obviously don’t put a lot of time into my posts. They are more like a stream of consciousness writing exercise. Sometimes it hurts people unintentionally.
Finally, to the person whom I used as an illustration, I apologize. I did not name names, nor do I, for a single moment, question your integrity. I made the comment to you, we joked about it, and I felt comfortable sharing the story as a simple illustration. Again, open mouth, insert foot.