Lillian Daniel: Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be pastors

This video parody of Willie Nelson's "Mammas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" hits home for pastors and other leaders, for whom "dinner is always served cold."

This video has been circulating on YouTube, appearing on pastor’s Facebook pages and is being emailed among clergy circles. The parody features a hard working pastor and his patient wife. The words of the Willie Nelson classic have been changed to include verses like, “dinner is always served cold.” The pastor sleeps in his suit, reads only the Bible, and has to greet every single parishioner before leaving the building. At the end, on his coffin sits the vibrating cell phone, calling him from the grave. His wife tells the gravedigger, “He was never really mine. He was a pastor.”

I sent it to my own kids and my thirteen year old said, “Ma, this one is actually funny!” Thus indicating that she is not sophisticated enough to appreciate my other humorous emails, which have been hilarious, by the way.

Abigail sat riveted at the computer, laughing at times, and finally said, shaking her head, “It’s true. It’s all true.”

When I asked her what was true, she went to the ordinary moments. How it always takes so long for our family to leave church, because there’s always one more person for me to talk to. In fact, they’ve taken to leaving me there, after worship, to walk home by myself. As the song puts it, “Pastors are easy to love but hard to get home.”

The Florida Hospital Church in Orlando produced this charming video. If you visit their website, you will see they have a lot of good ones. Check out “Before He Speaks,” which is a parody of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” It begins with a montage of preachers all telling stories about their wives, and then switches to the feelings of the wives, who are fed up with being sermon illustrations. They are shown making up the couch and hiding the remotes of their preacher husbands, while they sing, “Maybe next time he’ll think before he speaks.”

Watching these clips about a church from a different tradition than my own, with different looking worship; watching it as a younger pastor than the one featured, and yes, as a woman, it was remarkable how much it resonated. It’s a good reminder that we clergy, across the theological spectrum, have much more in common than we think. From high church Anglican priest to the preacher with a Plexiglas pulpit, dinner is often served cold.

But watching the scenes, and then watching my daughter watch the scenes, made me stop to appreciate what the pastor’s family puts up with. In my case, when I finally do come home from church on Sunday, I am basically comatose the entire afternoon, lost in TV land, remote in hand, half napping on the couch with the dog, which is the only company I am fit for. By 5 pm, I start to revive, but the family knows that on Sundays, I am pretty much out of it.

And not only do they put up with me, they take care of me. The video has a sweet spirit to it, not a mean one. And I found myself deeply touched that on Sunday, hot or cold, someone has made dinner for me at all.