Most of you know I was a pastor’s kid up until I was 17. Being a pastor’s kid in a small church and attending a tiny Christian school is bound to make a person awkward and socially inept. That was a perfect description for me. I was painfully shy, nervous around girls, had very few friends…
But still, I forced myself to participate in things despite my discomfort. I was always more comfortable with adults, so one of the things I did was volunteer to play in the church band at the church I was attending. They accepted me immediately and I got along great with everyone involved. I always felt like I belonged with that group, and in retrospect I would have been better off just staying with what worked.
However, about 3 years after I started playing in the church band, the youth pastor of the church asked me to lead the youth worship. He needed someone who could fill in for a few months or longer, and he had talked to the people that I was already playing with and they’d told him I was great.
At the time, it felt like validation, like I was being recognized for being a good musician and a committed volunteer.
Boy was I naive.
The first week I led the youth it was rough. I blew out a guitar string on the first song and my guitar wouldn’t hold a tune, and it was just a tough night. The backup vocalists for the band were also out of town that week so it was just me.
I was relieved when the entire band was available to play the next week. The band was all teenage boys, and the backup vocalists were both girls. The girls did not like my vocal abilities, and since they were friends with the sound guy, they basically turned me down and themselves up passive-aggressively, never actually having the conversation like a mature adult would. I’m perfectly willing to accept criticism about my vocal talent, because I’ve never claimed to be a singer.
About a month into the gig, the youth pastor called me during the week and asked me to come in. I figured he wanted to talk about planning for the future or something, because the music had been going great.
Boy was I naive.
“Incredipete, a couple of the girls from the youth group have come to me and told me they’re uncomfortable around you and that you’re ‘creepy'”. Naturally I was surprised by this announcement, especially with the blunt delivery. I said… “Hmmm, that’s interesting. I haven’t even had interaction with any girls from the youth group except for the two who sing in the band.”
Well, the two backup vocalists were the culprits and the youth pastor went on to say they were “willing to keep working with me” if I “stop being creepy.” I asked for him to clarify what they were specifically having an issue with, and all he could say was “creepy.” To this day, I still don’t know what their problem was with me. I never flirted with them or asked them out or behaved inappropriately around them. If anything, I was on my best behavior because I didn’t want to screw up the opportunity.
That day, I resolved to leave the church, although it took me an additional 6 months to actually leave. The moment that conversation with the youth pastor ended, I had one foot out the door.
My problem with it was more than just the unfairness of the assertion. It was the fact that they had snuck behind my back to the pastor, had clearly talked with each other about it before they did so, and that they (religious people that they claimed to be) didn’t even have the integrity to follow the Biblical model for calling someone out…. which is first to speak TO THE PERSON, and if they refuse to deal with it, THEN you bring in a church leader.
It was always ironic to me that they were violating the Bible’s clear guidelines in order to try and get me booted for something they couldn’t even articulate.
Anyhow, I didn’t leave immediately, but that was mostly out of a desire to make them feel awkward for having talked crap behind my back.