The Long-haired Pastor

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Whenever people find out that I’m a  pastor, they look at me in disbelief.  I guess it’s the long hair.  I always tell them that how you look on the outside isn’t what matters it’s what’s on the inside.  And then I tell them the story about the prophet Samuel going to the house of a man named Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be the next king of Israel.

Jesse had his oldest son, Eliab come before Samuel. The prophet looked at the young man and said, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!” Perhaps Eliab looked like a king but the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I told them about Saul, Israel’s first king who was tall and handsome but he turned out to be a big disappointment. God rejected him as king and terminated his kingship because of his disobedience. I told them that all of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel but God didn’t choose any of them. Then, Jesse’s youngest son, David, was brought before Samuel and God said to the prophet, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” God chose a shepherd boy to be the next king of Israel.

God looked at David’s heart and chose him to shepherd His people. Likewise, God looked at my heart, not at my outward appearance and called me to be a pastor. And I have been a pastor for twelve years now. I love it. I love teaching God’s Word. I love baptizing people and I love doing Bible Studies. When I’m not doing these things, I’m out and about, taking photos of nature. I’m thinking of creating a calendar with these photos and Bible verses to accompany them. My wife, Carol thinks that’s a great idea.

She recently started doing Bible Studies too for women and loves it. She even has a blog where people can read daily devotions and have access to the Bible studies she does in our home. She is an excellent writer and teacher. She is the leader of Women’s Ministry and is the editor of the church’s newsletter. Sometimes, I feel that she needs to slow down or she’ll burnout.

I often wonder if she knew what she was getting herself into when she married me. It’s not easy being a pastor’s wife because she has a lot more to deal with than other wives and is held at a higher standard. She has to always bear in mind that she’s representing not only herself, but her husband and his ministry too. She is highly esteemed and even put on a pedestal which she doesn’t want at all. And she also has to deal with those might not like her and who envy her for her position. It’s a tough role but I must admit that Carol has embraced it and is doing me proud. I thank God everyday for such a remarkable and virtuous wife and mother.

She’s an excellent mother. They adore her. Young women and girls look up to her. And she’s my support. I can talk to her about anything. We pray and study together and with the kids. I seek her advice because I know that it would be godly. She is a strong woman, emotionally and spiritually. She’s god-fearing and loves the Lord very much.

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re in the living-room. I’m on the sofa and she is cleaning up in the kitchen. We’ve just finished having dinner. The kids are in the basement watching TV. She comes into the room and sits beside me. She doesn’t say anything for a moment and then, she says, “Yesterday, an elder approached me and told me that I should advise you to cut your hair.”

I stared at her. “Why should I cut my hair?” I asked.

“She said that according to the Bible, it is a shame for a man to have long hair. So, as a man and a pastor, you should not have long hair.”

“Granted, it is true that men having long hair wasn’t the norm in biblical times. Only certain men did like Samson, Samuel and John, the Baptist because they were Nazirites and Paul took the Nazirite vow. If it’s God’s will for me to cut my hair, I will cut it. I will not cut it because an elder in the church has a problem with it.”

“I don’t think she’s the only one who has a problem with your hair. And, Honey, doesn’t the Bible say that we should try as much as possible to live as peaceably with other people?”

“Yes, but the Bible also says that outward appearance isn’t important. I’m not interested in looking like a Christian but having a heart which is right with God. Jesus focused on the heart instead of on a person’s outward appearance. As Christians, we ought to stop worrying about and being distracted by things which are not important and remember that we represent Christ who is the Head of the church and that whatever we do, ‘in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ I personally don’t believe that God considers it a shame for men to have long hair. Otherwise, why would He have instituted the Nazarite vow?”

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“That’s a good point.”

“The scripture verse, the elder quoted, mentions that nature itself teach that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him. What nature was Paul talking about? Was it the nature of God? I don’t believe so. If God’s nature dictated that it was shameful for men to have long hair, then there should have been no exception just like adultery is a sin and there is no exception. Adultery is never excusable or permissible in God’s sight. It was wrong for Joseph to commit just as it was wrong for David to. If God hated men to have long hair, why would He make an exception for Samson’s, Samuel’s and John, the Baptist? It doesn’t make sense.”

“What nature was Paul talking about?”

“By nature, Paul was referring to the secular customs of the time. Men weren’t supposed to have long hair and women weren’t supposed to be have shaved or bald heads. Paul said, ‘But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering’. He concluded by saying, ‘But if anyone wants to argue about this, we do not have any custom like this, nor do any of God’s churches’.”

“You’ve made some really great points, Honey. I personally don’t see why your long hair should be a bone of contention but what will you do if perhaps, there are some weak genuine Christians who stumble because they see a strong Christian man with long hair?”

“Then, it would be incumbent for that strong Christian man to cut his hair.”

“Yes, and he will be doing it, not because there’s anything wrong with having long hair but since it has become a stumbling block to a weak but genuine Christian, he has to do what is necessary not to cause that person to fall.”

After that discussion with Carol, I have decided that I would continue to wear my hair in a ponytail in church and will only cut it if I’m impressed to do so as not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in a brother’s or sister’s way.

Sources: Bible Issues; Christianity.com; Jamaican Gleaner;

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