HUMOR SHOULD BIND AND NOT DIVIDE
Humor can be an effective tool to transcend differences and remind people of their shared humanity. To be effective, no one present should feel like a target of the humor nor should it make fun of people that others care about.
You can frequently have fun with generic categories. Clergy can make fun of clergy in general but not the pastor in the neighborhood. It’s easier to make fun of church bureaucracies than to make fun of the hard working people at the General Assembly. Someone might know one of the people that work at that level and feel their stress.
LAUGH AT YOURSELF
Generally speaking, self-depreciating humor is almost always effective unless it comes across as whining. “I know I’m supposed to be spiritually sensitive. It’s not my fault that God hasn’t provided me with the latest in spiritual hearing aides.” Almost no one can take offense at a joke you tell about yourself. For most people it disarms them because you are recognizing your humanity.
TRY A METAPHOR
Humor that is inclusive of the whole group can also be effective. Metaphors that can elicit unusual comparisons are often effective in loosening people up. “I know that we have a difficult decision to make. We are sort of like a turtle who is caught between staying in our protective shell and sticking our neck out to see where we are going?” Having used a metaphor, you might want to allow some time for others to chime in with their analogies as well. Usually it is shared fun and creates a good atmosphere as you continue the conversation.
STUMP THE METAPHOR
If you want a fun experience either by yourself or with a group of colleagues, try to think of a bizarre metaphor and invite people to link it to the nature of the church, the challenges of ministry, or the expectations of a congregation. Comparisons of unlikely categories can be a source of amusement.
Try to complete one of the following comparisons.
Clergy are like taxcollectors……….”
Being pastor of a congregation is like husbanding a rose garden………..
For clergy, you should make use of the possibilities of some biblical humor.
Jesus said you can’t love God and money.
So could I just be really friendly with a few more dollars?
Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine. . .”
That does make it really difficult to preach at times.
Clergy are like beautiful birds
Some approach you with awe and wonder.
Others are always comparing you to more beautiful birds they have once seen.
Others like to hide in blinds waiting for a chance to shoot you down.
Have you found some colleagues with whom to laugh yet. What is your experience?