I remember getting my first ministerial call as I prepared to graduate from seminary. Small town in the heart of Appalachia. The church was beautiful, a traditional Protestant downtown county seat kind of church.
The parsonage was nice … big. It had a large yard with an enormous swing set, new landscaping in the front. And to complete the perfect vocational/domestic idyll, the parsonage sat across the street from the fourth tee at the country club—to which the church bought me a membership.
So, back at the seminary I told my buddies about it … saving the country club part for last. Let’s be honest I was bragging. Looking back, I’m not proud of it. I was twenty-six and insensitive in that obnoxious way young people who figure they’ve got the world by the tail can be.
My pride didn’t even make it through that first conversation with my friends at seminary, however. Because after I finished recounting the glories of my new job, complete with the country club audio tour I wanted so badly to share, one of my friends, Marcus, spoke up and said, “Are you going to take that membership?”
I thought surely this must be a rhetorical question, because … really? Are you nuts? Of course, I’m taking it.
“Good for you. But let me ask you something: Can I come visit you at your new church?”
“You’re my friend. Of course.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that. Let me ask you another question: If you take me to play golf at your country club, will they let me play? Or will I have to caddy for you?”