Monday, April 15, 2013

Just a trim, please

This sketch appears courtesy of Emory Cash
I’m not a fan of preachers who love to parade their literary skills by alerting everyone to the latest book they’ve read. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think preachers ought to be reading constantly, but a book report should never replace a sermon. Not even sure it belongs in a blog, but I am still a neophyte with all this blogging stuff, so forgive me.

Having placed my cards on the table, I want to share a thought that has been marinating in my mind about a character in a book I have just read–Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. It was recommended to me by two of my closest and dearest friends, Belden Lane and William Davis.  

Belden, William and I were in seminary together. Met the first day when Corrine and I pulled up to our seminary apartment in a rented U-Haul. They helped us unload our belongings up to the second floor. We became instant friends.

We always knew that Belden’s dream was to teach. After he received his PhD, he landed a gig at St. Louis University as a full time professor of historical theology. He spent his entire time there teaching students and shaping their lives.

William, on the other hand, started out chasing his dream to be a preacher. Interestingly, by graduation he had reached the conclusion that he did not want to be in a church. No clergy robe for him. It was an easy decision for him, but the hard part was telling family and friends that he was opting out of ministry even before he started.

The same sort of thing happens to Jayber Crow. Primed to be a preacher, he instead becomes a barber in a little town. He trades his Bible for a pair of clippers and a comb. Funny thing in the story is how he ministers to all sorts of people from behind the barber chair. He listens to their stories, hears them when they brag about their success and nods as they sort out all the world’s problems.  

The best thing about Jayber is that he is a wonderful friend to all in the town–seeing them in their "human goodness and frailty." It’s no surprise that his barbershop becomes a sanctuary. Without even knowing it, he turns out to be the town’s pastor and does a world better than any of the preachers in town. Customers always get more than a trim when they enter his shop.

Like I said, my friend William never became ordained. But after watching him all these years, I’ve realized he’s like Jayber Crow. He’s ministered to more people than any preacher. He does it by being a friend, by listening, by understanding, by seeing the goodness in everyone.  

Jesus said, “You are my friends.” Pretty amazing theological premise if you think about it. The very Son of God calls you his friend...


  1. Thank you, Dr. Kort. Your insightful words are a wonderful start to the day.

  2. To be a "a neophyte with all this blogging stuff", you've caught on quickly. Maybe the blog is your barber chair.

  3. I am enjoying the blogs! Sounds like a good book too.

  4. We cannot all be ministers, but we can all certainly be friends.