Subliminal Lone Ranger Syndrome

Disclaimer – From time to time blog entries are written by Calvary Chapel pastors that turn the magnifying glass from looking outward to looking inward. When this is done it’s easy to sound like one is being critical and negative. This can also give fuel to the anti-CC crowd to say, “See! Even their own guys don’t like CC!” Speaking for myself, my intention is never to point out flaws or name names for its own sake. It is always to identify problems and seek solutions for myself and others who make the same observations. It is in that spirit that I humbly submit this entry.

One of the distinctions between being introverted and extroverted has to do with where a person gets their energy from. Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. They love the interaction because they get a charge by being around other people. They typically don’t like to spend a lot of time alone because that can drain them. Introverts get their energy from being alone. They need their alone time to recharge and find that being around other people too much drains their energy. Extroverts think out loud. Introverts think quietly, sometimes so much so that they can believe that they already said something to someone when in reality they had the conversation in their own head. “Didn’t we already have this discussion?”

I am an introvert. Actually, tests suggest that I’m an extreme introvert. If you knew me that might seem kind of confusing. I got the “most school spirit” award in high school, I was one of the leads in the school play, I was the drum major two years running (yes, band and drama geek), I love doing and teaching improv theater, I did over-the-phone tech support for three years, I had a job for four years where I did 2-3 sometimes 4 elementary school assemblies where I was basically a human cartoon for 45 minutes while using a yoyo, I’ve been a youth, associate, and pastor of churches. Doesn’t sound very introverted does it.

Yet, ask anyone who really really knows me and they will tell you that I love and need my alone time. When I’m in alone time mode I may look quiet on the outside but there is a firestorm of activity going on up there in the brain. There is always a show on. I typically have a hard time shutting my brain down at night to sleep. Does all of this mean I’m not a people person? Not really. All of the charging I do alone has to be expelled somewhere. It’s just that being around people too much will drain me. I see that now and am still learning how to balance things.

What does any of this have to do with the title of this blog? We’ll get there. I’ve been introverting on this for a couple of days now. Keep in mind the disclaimer above please. While at CCBC we heard over and over again how Pastor Chuck was kind of the lone man, called out of his denomination, led of the Lord to take the position as pastor at the fledgling CC. The story always had a very Lone Ranger quality to it. Chuck out on the frontier of balancing good Bible teaching with walking in the power of the Spirit. After a while he booted hatchlings out of the nest to be Lone Rangers. Whether or not they were or weren’t Lone Rangers isn’t my point. My point is that this is how the stories came across. “All I had was my Bible, the Lord, and a little group of people.” Lone Rangers. As students , we were encouraged to go to “where no CC had gone before” and plant churches. There were already plenty of them in SoCal, so we were told to go to North Dakota, the mid-west, the east coast, where there were relatively few CCs.

There was a subliminal message to be Lone Ranger pastors. On the one hand it makes sense. There is no need to have 5 CCs in a town of 20,000. We shouldn’t be in each others back yards. On the other hand it’s dangerous. If we are out there on the frontier, or even if we are in a metropolitan area with other CCs around, we should not be Lone Ranger pastors. We need accountability. We need friendships where we can share things we can’t normally share with others. In a sense, being a pastor is like being a homicide detective. You can’t come home to your wife and kids and unload about the bodies you saw. You need others you can dump that on. You need to protect your family from certain things. I’m not saying that we have to have other CC pastors we confide in, but we do need other men we can have that kind of relationship. What are the consequences? We crash and burn. We do something stupid and have to leave the ministry. Lone Rangers bite the dust.

This is not easy for me to write. As I said, I am an extreme introvert. I can be Mr. Life-o-the-party (sounds Irish) but it isn’t at all my natural inclination to be everyone’s best friend. Johnny Carson once said that he felt right at home in front of millions of people on TV but get him in a room with 10 people and he had the hardest time. I’ve had very few close friends in my life because it does take a great deal of effort for me to build those relationships. Add to this the possibility that I may have a mild form of Autism called Asberger’s Syndrome and it makes things all the more interesting. (My younger son has Asberger’s, as does Bill Gates. It was through my son’s diagnosis process that my wife, God bless her, pointed out that I have the same thing to a lesser degree.) People with Asberger’s can function normally in society, they just seem kind of socially quirky.

My point in all of this? I can’t be a Lone Ranger pastor even if it is my natural tendency. I have to bite the bullet, let others in, and get into others. It’s time to take the mask off and settle down in the town. But I will still keep Silver on hand for those times when I need a quiet ride alone. Sorry Tonto.

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© Corby Stephens 2005-2018