I’m sure all of you have had instances of people mistaking you for someone other than who you really are. How do you deal with it? Do you go along to get along? Do you immediately correct the person? Or does your reaction depend on the circumstances?
The first Christmas after I became Senior Pastor I was in the narthex greeting attendees of the Christmas program. When an unfamiliar face arrived, I made sure to go over to greet the person. I went over to greet one such person and asked if she was a visitor. She stated that she was a regular attendee of the church, but not a member.
To demonstrate that she was a regular attendee, she said, “You are Deacon Brown’s wife, aren’t you?”
“No, I am Rev. Dr. Grace Alexander, pastor of the church,” I stated.
Her mouth immediately flew open. She was caught. She was definitely not a regular attendee or she would have known that I had been pastor for the past 6 months.
I could not have said anything. I could have let her be surprised when I gave my opening remarks at the beginning of the program. But I couldn’t let a mistaken identity pass without addressing it.
I could have wondered if I corrected her, would she come back to the church. But that should never be a concern.
Know who you are and state who you are! Never let a mistaken identity stand, not even for a few minutes.
I am reminded of a friend who allowed a mistaken identity to stand. She was pastor of a church. However, the man she was dating lived in the same state but in another city. He believed that women should not be pastors. He was very involved in his church and attended every Sunday. She never told him that she was a minister, and certainly not a pastor.
Soon there was talk of marriage. Only then did she invite him to an afternoon program at her church. However, she never told him that she was pastor. He did not discover it until he walked into the program and saw her preaching.
He immediately ended the relationship.
Many months of their lives were wasted because a mistaken identity was allowed to stand.
So, women in the pulpit, be secure in who you are. And never let a mistaken identity stand.
This holiday season take a break and read about my challenges in Woman In The Pulpit
Would he recommend Woman In The Pulpit to other pastors? “Absolutely! I have already recommended it to my pastor friends.”
He settled back for the long flight. When the plane was in the air, he opened his iPad to continue reading a novel. Glad the iPad provided cover for his book, he preferred that his reading choice not become known. He was reading the novel, Woman In The Pulpit.
Rev. Theo (who doesn’t want his last name used) is part of a growing movement of male pastors who are reading Woman In The Pulpit. “I think the sympathy lies with Rev. Thomas Haliburton. Although what he did to Grace was wrong, I can certainly understand his actions. We all know people like him who can’t let go,” said Rev. Theo when asked about his attraction to the novel.
In Woman In The Pulpit, Rev. Thomas Haliburton has a hard time adapting to a female pastor of a church. He tries to undermine everything she does. He turns against anyone who is open to a woman pastor. The result is a tragedy that is blamed on the only female pastor in town.
Margaree Mitchell, the author of Woman In The Pulpit, has heard from male pastors. “The first thing they want to know is when the next book in the series will be published. Then they want to know what happens to Rev. Haliburton,” Mitchell said. “I’m glad they care what happens to him. I wanted to make Rev. Haliburton someone who people can identify with.”
Asked why she drew Rev. Haliburton as a complex character, Mitchell said, “At first he was a character with no redeeming value. But I decided to dig deeper and show the events which lead him to the brink.”
Rev. Haliburton’s character initiates soul-searching on the part of men who read the book. “I certainly questioned how I deal with change,” Rev. Theo said. “I found I wasn’t as progressive as I positioned myself to be.”
Would he recommend Woman In The Pulpit to other pastors? “Absolutely! I have already recommended it to my pastor friends,” he said.
Click to read Woman In The Pulpit