Call me crazy

Jeffrey O. Brown, PhD, is the associate editor of Ministry and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Gilbert Limones, pastor of Casa El Shaddai, heard the “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire about 150 feet away from the school shooter in Uvalde, Texas. Amazed that he was not hit, Limones has been broken with guilt about not being able to stop the shooter. Limones survived—19 children and 2 teachers did not.1

The public life of a pastor is dangerous—so is the private life. “Burnout is a harbinger of darker things: mental breakdowns, physical collapse, even self-harm. Pastoral work is not only tough; it also may be dangerous.”2 Some describe a pastor’s work in one word: crazy.

Crazy means “unusual, unpredictable, and out of control.” It is a term few would want to own, but one that, on a number of fronts, I find strangely appealing.

Crazy vow

When we make a commitment to our spouse—it is crazy. For Elizabeth Achtemeier, the vow means, “I will be with you, no matter what happens to us and between us. If you should become blind tomorrow, I will be there. If you achieve no success and attain no status in our society, I will be there. . . . When we seem totally at odds and neither of us is having needs fulfilled, I will persist in trying to understand and in trying to restore our relationship. When our marriage seems utterly sterile and going nowhere at all, I will believe that it can work and I will want it to work, and I will do my part to make it work.”3 Not crazy, just Christian.

Crazy love

When we make a commitment to our children—it is crazy. Cornell University psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner said, “In order to develop [normally,] a child requires participation . . . with one or more persons with whom the child develops a strong, mutual, irrational, emotional attachment and who is committed to the child’s well-being and development. . . .

“Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.”4

Perhaps we should have the same “crazy” love toward pastors. Yet we know that while pastors are capable of being conduits of incredible blessing, they are also guilty of causing indescribable pain. Abuse and bigotry of the most despicable kinds have been carried out in the name of biblical authority. Does God expect us to love those kinds of pastors? Author and pastor Francis Chan said, “I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them.”5 Not crazy, just Christian.

Crazy grace

When ministerial associations make a commitment to pastors—it is crazy. We echo, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1, ESV). This means we hold pastors to the highest standards of morality—then embrace them with the widest measures of grace. Not logical? Author and pastor Max Lucado states, “One can’t help but be a bit stunned by the inconceivability of it all. Why does Jesus stand on life’s most barren hill and await me with outstretched, nail-pierced hands? A ‘crazy, holy grace’ it has been called. A type of grace that doesn’t hold up to logic. But then, I guess grace doesn’t have to be logical. If it did, it wouldn’t be grace.”6

Maybe there is a definition of crazy we can all agree on: when crazy means “not making sense.” But who said it has to? As Chan says, “Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”7 So ministerial associations are proud to have a crazy commitment to pastors—one that is as irrepressible as it is irrational.

Our Ministerial Association is in its hundredth year now. Why do we do what we do? Because we love you, our men and women pastors. When people are ready to cast you aside, we will insist on resourcing you and supporting you, not because we ignore the facts but because Jesus said, “ ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ ” (Heb. 13:5, NKJV).

As a disciple of Jesus, I am just trying to do what He did. Call me crazy.

  1. Jay Reeves, “Pastor Shot at by Uvalde Gunman Recounts Terror in Sermon,” Associated Press, June 5, 2022.
  2. Matt Bloom, Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), xi.
  3. Elizabeth Achtemeier, The Committed Marriage (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1976), 41.
  4. Larry K. Brendtro, “The Vision of Urie Bronfenbrenner: Adults Who Are Crazy About Kids,” Reclaiming Children and Youth 15, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 162–166.
  5. Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013), 23.
  6. Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1986), 91.
  7. Chan, Crazy Love, 9.

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Jeffrey O. Brown, PhD, is the associate editor of Ministry and an associate ministerial secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

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