OPINION: Laughter is always best route

As I write this article, the weather outside is frightful, but the atmosphere inside is delightful giving me a chance to catch my thoughts during a busy and hectic fall. We've lived in northwest Arkansas since 1999, and I don't remember such cold weather before Christmas. It's so cold even the golf clubs are silent.

I have a mantra I often follow when I am playing golf and things are just not going well with just about everything I am doing. Golfers will understand this, since it happens far too often, but the reactions also vary widely. Some golfers will get angry, curse a little, throw their clubs around and make all kinds of excuses. Me, I have learned the best response is to LAUGH. Yes, laugh. Why not? Cursing doesn't help, beating up on my golf clubs for something not going right with me is nonsense, and no one around wants to hear my excuses. So, why not do something to release my golfing frustrations?

There have been several books written about the power of laughter, but two which I particularly like are "'O for the Life of a Preacher!" by Leon Hill, and "The Happy Clergy" by Herb Walker. They're rather short, but full of anecdotes about preachers and other things, so, sit back, relax and laugh a little while I spin some hilarious situations. All of these come from these two books.

Some churches are pretty small. In one, an old maid was telling her friend who was visiting from a different city, "Our church is so small that when the preacher says, 'Dearly beloved,' I blush all over."

Everyone probably knows why Solomon was the wisest man of his time. It was because he had so many wives to advise him.

A 3 year old was heard chanting during the Christmas season, "Not a preacher was stirring, not even a mouse."

One preacher found a dead mule on his lawn at Texarkana. He called the mayor and said, "I want you to come and bury this mule." The mayor said in reply, "I thought it was the business of the preacher to bury the dead." Replied the preacher, "But we always notify the nearest relatives first."

Some preachers can't win for losing. If his hair is gray, he is too old. If he is a young man, he hasn't had enough experience. If he has 10 children, he has too many. If he has no children, he is not setting a good example. If his wife sings in the choir, she is presuming. If she doesn't, she is not interested in her husband's work. If he reads from notes, he is a bore. If he speaks extemporaneously, he isn't deep enough. If he stays in his study, he doesn't mix with people. If he's been around the street, he ought to be at home getting a good sermon. If he calls on the wealthy, he's an aristocrat. If he calls on the poor, he's just playing to the grandstand.

One preacher declared, "I'm a Baptist preacher. Someone asked me if I was one of those narrow Baptists who think only Baptists are going to heaven. Said he, "I'm narrower than that, I don't believe half of them are going."

A rabbi and a Presbyterian minister were engaged in a conversation in New England. "One of my ancestors," said the Presbyterian minister, "signed the Declaration of Independence." Not to be outdone, the rabbi replied, "Yes, I understand. One of my ancestors signed the Ten Commandments."

A Quaker was milking a cow. He got about half way through, but the cow kicked over the bucket of milk. He quietly shook his head and started again. He had just about finished when the cow put its foot in the bucket. He went around in front of the cow, took her by the horns, shook her, and said, "Thou knowest I am a Quaker, thou knowest I cannot lose my temper. But there is one thing thou dost not know. Tomorrow I am going to give thee to my brother-in-law who is a Baptist, and he'll beat the devil out of thee."

Now, I know these are lopsided preacher stories, but I was a preacher (I prefer pastor) for 39 years, and thought you might be interested in a laugh at the expense of a preacher. Remember, when times don't go well or like you'd want, just take a moment to think about it, and laugh.

-- Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed in the article are the opinions of the author and not the agencies he serves.