This morning I went to a Pastor's Breakfast put on by a local Christian book store. I've attended one of these before and I only attended this one because a friend was going who is a new pastor. You pay for breakfast and then sit and listen to publishers push their books, and then you get some freebies. It was about 2 1/2 hours.
At first I was sitting there in this room full of probably 100 or so pastors, and you know me, I was being my usual cynical old self. There were pastors there of all shapes and sizes, some dressed in suits and some in shorts, several of them talked while the speakers were making their presentations, cell phones went off left and right. Typical stuff that would probably drive many of them mad if someone else did that during their Sunday services.
So... being all full of myself, I start chatting with the guy sitting to my right. He is dressed like a business man in a really nice suit and expensive looking watch and whatnot. Running through my mind are all these nasty thoughts about what kind of pastor he must be. It turns out he pastors an inner-city church connected with the city mission. Ninety-five percent of their income is spent on missions/ministry, with the other five percent spent on utilities and upkeep. He doesn't draw a salary, but instead works full-time as a financial consultant - which is why he was dressed the way he was. So I swallowed my bagel hard and asked God to forgive my stinking judgmental attitude.
Then one of the publishers gets up to speak, and even though he works for Zondervan, he was also presenting for the Broadman-Hulman rep because he was unable to be there. How often do you see a businessman help out someone from a competing company? Would I have done that?
At the end, the owners of the store that put the event on (which I always complain about every time I go there) got up and thanked everyone for attending. They proceeded to tell how their business has suffered for the past several years, and what a strain it has put on their personal finances and their relationship and everything, and how it was only because of their sincere faith in God and desire to serve the community that they've been able to keep the place going, and God has done miracle after miracle and how thankful they are (and it was sincere, not mushy, feel-sorry-for-me type stuff)...
Long before it was over I became pretty convicted of how rotten a person I am. There were all kinds of people in this place, and every single one of them - while each being different - were there because they love God and they want to help people. I want to be more like that, and less negative, cynical, judgmental, and boorish. God help me.
I got a pile of free books: The Holman Christian Standard Bible, A Closer Walk With Jesus - by Guideposts, Character Is The Issue - by Mike Huckabee, The Blazing Center Study Guide - by John Piper, Outragious, Contagious Joy - by Ed Young, A New Earth An Old Deception - by Richard Abanes, Experiencing Leader Shift - by Don Cousins, and Living and Leading From Your Holy Discontent workbook - by Bill Hybels. I may only read a few of these, but more important than the books was the time I spent talking with people. I knew a few already, and met some more. This is one thing I need to make myself do more often - get out and actually talk to people, and quit thinking there is nothing I can learn from anyone else, or thinking I am better than others. I am not. I'm actually much worse. So... I'm glad I went.