I woke up on Sunday morning to an email from Google alerting me to a brand new review for The Local Church.
One star out of five.
Awesome. Heck of a way to start a Sunday.
Then I read the comment attached to the review: “Pastor is awful.”
Even better. Can I just go back to sleep?
I don’t think I know Tess. I work hard to meet each person who connects with The Local Church, and Tess is not one I recall meeting. But I could be wrong. If you know her, would you put us in touch? I’d love an opportunity to try to make it right.
I spent much of the morning (probably too long, to be honest) thinking about how to respond. Do I go on the defensive? Do I let it go, brush it off, and just not respond at all?
But then I decided to pretty much just say, “Hey, Tess. Thanks for this. You’re right about me.”
Because I can be a selfish jerk sometimes.
I forget to respond to emails.
I routinely think uncharitable thoughts.
I spend too much time on my phone.
I regularly fail to give the benefit of the doubt.
I make up stories in my head.
I can be incredibly arrogant (while also being very insecure).
Sometimes I ignore texts.
I procrastinate like a champ.
I should eat more vegetables.
There’s more. So. Much. More.
But Tess is right: On the journey toward sanctification, I’ve got a long way to go. I could be a lot more like Jesus.
And yet, I thank God for the grace that assures me I’m not defined by worst moments.
For the mercy I need when I’m not at my best.
For the tough love from those who call me out and hold me accountable.
For the community that makes me better.
For the ways the Spirit takes this “awful” and, in spite of me, makes something beautiful out of it again and again.
I’m a work in progress, and Jesus isn’t finished with me — thanks be to God.
And while Tess may be right about me, I don’t completely agree with her assessment, because there’s absolutely no freaking way that The Local Church deserves a one-star review.
There’s just no way.
Because not only is The Local Church not defined by its pastor (thank God), but the church's work is inspired and inspiring and life-changing, and it deserves all of the stars. All of them. A whole galaxy worth. It’s because of the ways they help to resettle Afghan refugees, make encouragement packs for teachers at local elementary schools, write letters to lawmakers, give so generously to keep this movement going, fund food programs for children, work to dismantle racism, pray for others, sing and play and lead worship, show up to help make Sundays happen each week, open their homes and lives to others — and so much more.
So at least as far as I’m concerned, The Local Church deserves all of the stars. A sky full of them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… if you’re having a one-star day with some awful moments of your own, remember that grace abounds. If you’re considering giving a one-star review, remember that grace abounds.
And — shameless plug — if you feel compelled to add your own review to the TLC Google listing, you can do that here.
Your (awful) pastor,