I Became a Pastor so Others Would Think Me Smart
I like feeling as though I'm the smartest person in the room. When I met Pastor Rob, I discovered how being a Pastor could make me feel it often.
I like being smart.
Well, let me rephrase that: I like feeling like I’m smart.
Smartness is obviously relative (in one context you might be top of the class, but move to another zip code and suddenly you’re below average). Plus, there’s different ways to think about the concept of smart: book smart, street smart, smart mouthed, etc.
So when I say that I like being smart, what I’m saying is that historically I have felt good about myself when I feel as though I am book-smarter than most of the people around me.
And those feelings get rocket fueled when people come to me seeking answers.
This theme will come up again in later articles (the idea of “feeling better than people”), but for now it’s enough to establish that for as long as I can remember I have found extreme levels of validation in believing that I am smart.
My quest for self-actualization via superior levels of knowledge began for me in school. For example, I can recall…
The not-so-subtle feeling of superiority in third grade when I was identified as TAG (Talented and Gifted) and would be visibly removed from the rest of the class to go to a different room for more advanced education. That’s right, suckers, watch me walk out and leave y’all dummies behind. Oh the high!
The endorphin hit in fifth grade when our teacher started having us bring our tests up to the front of the room to turn it in when we finished, and I quickly realized that I was first to finish every single time. Both smart and fast. What a rush!
The self esteem boost in middle school when other students would rush to be my partner because they knew it would increase their chance for success. I loved it!
(🤮I hope you’ll excuse this nauseating self-indulgent reflection of weird humble-bragging of my childhood brilliance… don’t worry, it’s almost over).
I’m trying to paint a picture of just how much energy I derived from feeling as though I know more than other people. In order to fully appreciate all of what drew me to the calling of being a Pastor, I want to honestly unearth the less-than-flattering parts of myself that might’ve seen pastoring as a way to scratch certain itches, even if not in the healthiest of ways.
I’ve heard it said that instead of asking kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” we should ask, “What problem in the world do you want to solve?”
When I think back to my academic years growing up, and I reflect on just how much of my self-worth was wrapped up in feeling smarter than other people, I wonder if part of my decision to become a Pastor was motivated by my desire to solve the problem of people not being as smart as me? (Blech, gross, I know).
I tell you all of this not only so that you know more about me and my origin story (both the good parts and the cringe 🥴), but because it was this particular aspect of my personality that made my high school youth pastor, Rob Nelke, such an allure to me.