Banning Church Leader Prostitution

A man once mistook me for a hooker. I know what you’re thinking  No, I was not dressed in drag and I was as surprised and ultimately pretty offended by the mistake. Perhaps more surprisingly, it all happened over the telephone.

The Solicitation

There I was, peacefully sitting in my office grading exams when the phone rang. The man introduced himself. He was an elder at a rather large and very well-known church. The conversation began with small talk, but quickly got around to the exchange of money for services.

“So,” he asked after explaining the purpose of his call, “Are you ready to come up here and be our Pastor?”

I replied that I was content where I was (I was serving on the faculty of Kentucky Christian University). I also knew the offer was being tendered pretty much on the sole basis of several people in the leadership having heard me speak somewhere. As far as I know, I’d never had a personal conversation with any of them about anything. Preaching is one of my strengths. But, I also know I have a boatload of weaknesses. Offering the leadership of a church to someone solely on the basis of hearing them preach a sermon or two is as dumb as voting for a President based on who looks best in a televised debate.

“We think you need to reconsider.”

I was, to be honest, flattered. If I felt God prodding me to move, I might have been at least willing to enter into a longer dialogue. I didn’t, so I didn’t.

“Thank you for the kind offer, but I’m really not interested.”

“Whatever you’re making at that school, we’ll at least double it.”

This is what might be called closing the sale. Like all such exchanges, at least one of the parties thinks it always comes down to negotiating the price.

I guess maybe I was having a grumpy day or maybe it just hit me wrong. Instead of being attracted or even flattered, I was embarrassed and a little upset.

“Listen, I may be many things I wish I was not, but I’m not up for sale to the highest bidder.”

The conversation ended awkwardly. I never heard from the church again. I told Linda about the conversation. But I’ve waited a number of years before putting it all into print. And, no, I will not provide any hints or clues about the identity of the elder or the church.

As I muddled over the conversation over the next few days, I found myself increasingly offended by the whole idea. I was offended that the kind of conversation I had over the phone is not that rare. Most of all, I was offended that my own vocation, time after time, has demonstrated that we can and often want to be, bought by high bidders.