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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Pastor Imposter?

There's a person in our town known by some as Pastor Imposter. Before ever meeting him, we were warned about him. Duly warned, we did nothing to seek him out. One day, many months into us living here, Pastor Imposter walked over to where we were sitting in our yard and introduced himself.

His friendliness felt affected, his curiosity about our job situation thinly veiled. He was quick to mention his pastoral credentials, and offer assistance with our immigration status. He gossiped about our new neighbors and seemed to be trying to ingratiate himself to us, or at least make a good impression. Maybe our friends' words of caution set us up to be skeptical, but regardless, we left the encounter feeling wary.

I recently started reading a memoir called, "The Prison Angel," about an American nun who has lived and served in a Mexican prison for the past 30 years. I've also been watching a Netflix series on lawyers who work to exonerate innocent people on death row. Being in a season of little productivity and even less reputation, my mind started wondering what it would be like to work for such a worthy cause- the plight of society's most unloved and rejected people.

More than just feeding my innate sense of justice, these daydreams also revealed my ego. Doing that level of social justice work would put me in a position of being admired for all the selfless work I'd be doing. Win-win!

My depravity became even more clear when I learned Eddie's friend is undergoing dialysis and needs a kidney transplant. I immediately thought, I should see if I can donate- I wouldn't mind and it would be such a blessing for the family. That thought was quickly followed by an almost imperceptible pride at being such an awesome, selfless person. Eww, gross.

Where was this need for acknowledgement coming from? Why was I suddenly seeing ways to serve as ways to elevate myself instead of elevating others? I reminded myself of Pastor Imposter himself.

Micah 6:8 says, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

There's no point in doing steps 1 & 2 without humility. If I am doing to the right things with the wrong motivation, I am an imposter. If I am sacrificing of myself so others can be impressed by my saintliness, I am not serving God, I am serving my ego.

Thank you, God, for showing me the ways I continue to seek validation from others. Thank you for showing me how cheaply I will sell my integrity, if given the chance. Forgive me for judging Pastor Imposter when I have the same pride and insecurity in me. Show me ways to to make a difference with my life and help me to reject the pride that tries to make it all about me. Amen.

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