While policing in Tennessee, a citizen told me that my job was very similar to that of a pastor. The comment knocked me into the following week.
Many of us think of preachers, pastors, clergy, ministers and reverends as the same thing, but there are differences. Some are ordained, some are not. Some coordinate church activities, and some just counsel, preach and administer sacraments. Most all are able to speak well and show attentiveness and social insight. Some have a seminary education, and others also have advanced college degrees. For the sake of this column, I will refer to them all as pastors.
Many of us think of police officers, deputies, detectives, constables, sheriffs and police chiefs as the same thing, but there are differences. All have the basic state requirements, many have college degrees, and a few have advanced training. But the majority are relatively free of physical, emotional, or mental conditions that could interfere with their assignment. They all have varied duties depending on the size of their department. Some might help develop new policies and regulations, and other might answer calls for service. Most all are able to speak well and show attentiveness and social insight. For the sake of this column, I will refer to them all as police officers.
Both are distinctive service professionals which require a very similar kindred spirit, like internal strength, energy, and moral codes of conduct. The strong emotions they face in crisis situations is often greater than the emotions other professionals face in crisis situations. For both, it can be a life of poignant loneliness. Their job is certainly different, they don’t require the same type of education or training, but their similarities abound.
Most police officers and pastors possess a distinct character or quality that’s exclusive only to an extraordinary group of people. A few people claim that police officers are called by God just like pastors are called by God. Regardless of their calling, thankfully, a handful of people agree to do those jobs. Many kudos to the first responders and pastors who give special and much needed service to our community in many unspoken ways.
Countless people regularly experience the heartfelt emotions and big heart of police officers and pastors. Both are confidants, and they keep mum on lots of secrets. Venting is a natural stress relief, and there are moments when a pastor’s world or a police officer’s world seems small and they need to unload. Unfortunately, they usually can’t “vent” about their experiences.
If character is doing what’s right when no one is looking, then 99% of police officers and pastors have character. Both usually exhibit huge character and charisma when they are seen by the public, but some exhibit a sense of isolation and sadness when they’re alone.
They regularly face moral quandaries and they’re expected to appropriately react to any crises at any given moment. They often forfeit themselves to keep up with the demands of their position. Police officers and pastors often work long hours and experience compassion fatigue. Too often, their family suffers because their loved one is absent. Death, sorrow, and bereavement are a large part of their lives. Regrettably, they’re put on a pedestal and they’re expected to never make a mistake. Simply put, a lot of people refuse to understand that they’re human.
Pastors may wear a collar or a robe, and police officers may wear a badge, but both wear their duties with clear ethics. They both frequently feel like they don’t fit in socially except with others of their profession, and the public generally considers them both as, “Always on duty.”
Pastors and police officers don’t battle people, they battle the power of sin and the power of crime. Of course, there are fake pastors who don’t preach the truth because they don’t possess the knowledge or ability. Others, because they want to fit in with real pastors. There are also fake police officers who are called “Holster sniffers” or “wannabes” who want to be someone they’re not. Thankfully, there are no more bad pastors or police officers than there are bad plumbers, electricians, carpenters, machinists and mechanics. But if a pastor or police officer steps out of line, it becomes front page top of the fold news. They deserve sincere appreciation because of their extensive abilities and the difficult job that they do. They are everyday people who offer nothing for people to fear, as long as they do what is right.