The joke was in poor taste.
A pastor once declared, “I’m happy to announce we have some CEOs here this morning.” Everyone was like, “Really, wow,” trying not to be too obvious looking around to see really important people sitting nearby. He finished his joke saying, “yes, ‘Christmas and Easter Only.’” A few chortles, some muffled laughs, and the one who enjoyed it most was Pastor himself. He thought it was so funny. “Get it, C-E-Os!” he thought to himself, looking around to see those laughing.
What if really important people visit your church this month, perhaps for the only time this year? How will you treat them?
Invited to a massive local plant, I found myself greeted with my name on an electronic sign, welcomed with a special parking place, guided by a waiting escort through security, and overwhelmed with many gifts, as I sat through a personal power point history lecture by the CEO, followed a jaw dropping tour. In short, I was treated like a CEO. Like someone important. I didn’t deserve any of this, but I sure wanted to go back.
Make people feel important. Christmas considers important all the people Jesus considers important. If he has matured, the pastor above might now hesitate to make a joke of occasional guests, but rather make the most of opportunities to have them for an on-site visit, and be prepared to blow them away so they want to return.
I don’t want to be too hard on this pastor, he had a lot of other things to learn as well. You guessed correctly, it was me.
I’ve come to know, though I still have a long way to go, CEOs deserve better. Instead of being the butt end of a joke (this makes me shudder with sadness now), what if I treated Christmas-and-Easter-only guests with my very best as if they were, well, maybe CEOs? “And the King shall say … as ye have done it unto the least … ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 5:40)”
I’ve noticed a great pastor not far away makes much of Christmas. He puts out publicity. He blows special services out of the water, over the top amazing. He tries to wow his seasonal, occasional visitors. He succeeds. I bet he would never, ever tell my joke about CEOs. I won’t either. Never again. I’m learning as I grow to see Christmas as an opportunity to reach out to people who at least one or two times a year have Jesus on their minds. Let’s make our most urgent priority to make the most of this important opportunity to make people feel … important.
Dr. Chet Haney is the senior pastor for Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville, Texas. He is a graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he played offensive end for the Bears. While at Baylor, he met his wife, Terri, with whom he has three married daughters.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baylor, a Masters of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before accepting the call to Highland Terrace in September of 2013, he served as Senior Pastor of Parkside Baptist Church in Denison, Texas. Chet also served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodville, TX, and Midway Baptist Church in Big Spring, TX. Prior to that, he was a youth minister for several years.