Lessons from a Covid Haircut.
To be safe, the hairstylist came to my condominium—masked and sanitized. In the open air of the parking lot, she turned on her clippers. I told her, “You know you are about to disappoint and delight two different populations at the same time.” COVID Lesson #1—You can’t please everybody. It’s a basic lesson in leadership. You make decisions every day based upon the best data you can gather and the best theology you can muster…and you know some people will be delighted and some will be disappointed.
I have been amazed at the assumed reasons for my not getting a haircut for the last five months. The reason was simple enough—the CDC said it was a high-risk venture to go to a salon or barbershop. Some people, however, thought I was growing my hair as a fundraising gimmick. I was told multiple versions of this story. Would I encourage betting pools on when I would get my hair cut, and then ask all the money to go to Lula Whilden? Would I allow people to ‘bid for the right to cut my hair’ and then let the winning bidder hold the razor while Lula Whilden held the money. There were more fun and creative suppositions, but I’m not really into gimmicks when it comes to the spirituality of generosity. COVID Lesson #2—If you don’t share your story, someone else will make up your story. While I strive for transparency in the pulpit, I maintain a high degree of privacy in my personal life. I learned long ago, people have a tendency to create stories with regard to what they don’t know.
COVID Lesson #3—Women ministers are treated unfairly on multiple levels. My vocational calling and ultimate career path were not plagued with the prejudices and obstacles imposed upon my female coworkers. In recent days, I’ve jokingly shared with some of my female colleagues how frequently parishioners comment on my hair. On multiple occasions I was told, “Welcome to the club. We can preach the most heartfelt sermon, pray our strongest prayer, and exercise our best wisdom in a committee meeting, but when we finish, someone wants to critique our makeup, jewelry, clothing, shoes…or…hair.” I saw a beloved church member in the grocery this past Saturday. My fellow worshiper exclaimed, “You got a haircut! I guess now we have to start talking about Jesus again.” We need to be more respectful of our female clergy.
COVID Lesson #4—Sometimes you just need to have fun. In life (and certainly in the church), we tend to take things too seriously. We make things matter that really don’t matter, and we overlook the importance of joy. In the last few months, I’ve been called Paul McCartney, Shaun Cassidy, and even Farrah Fawcett! We have all laughed…and that’s a good thing.
When you grow your hair out, it reaches an awkward stage. There comes a moment where you’ve got to ‘commit and push through to ponytail length’ or you’ve got to ‘cut back to ease-of-care length.’ Hair is just hard to manage in the ‘in between stage’—especially for someone who likes to swim, bike, run and keep morning rituals to a minimum. COVID Lesson #5—Be committed to your choices. For now, I’m committed to athletic ease and morning simplicity, but when I retire, a ponytail might be the hairstyle of choice. Now…let’s talk about Jesus.

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