FAT TUESDAY: Discrimination

Weight_Comparison-resized-600Many of my blog readers know that I have been looking for the right student ministry position for over a year now.  It’s been a grueling, enlightening time.

Recently, though, conversations regarding my job have turned to my weight.  Someone asked me if my weight was preventing me from getting a position…

The answer:  absolutely.  For someone who works with teenagers, I have the three deadly F-words right now.  Fat.  Forty.  Fracture (in my resume).

Those last two – yeah.  People confront me with those all the time.  “Aren’t you too old to be doing youth ministry?”  “When are you moving into a real pastorate?”  “Why are you not currently working in a church?”

Rarely do folks have the gumption to question me outright about my weight.  They’re content to ask those questions among their committees or within their own thought processes.  “Can someone that fat keep up with the kids?”  “He looks lazy.”  You fill in the blanks.  If you’re fat, you know what I’m talking about.

Let me just be frank about a few things:

a)      Ask me about my weight.  I’ll tell you how it hasn’t kept me from hiking in the Rockies, white water rafting with my students, staying up all night with families in need, or playing paintball with the staff.

b)      Ask me about my weight.  It doesn’t bother me to talk about it – and I would prefer straight shooters over surmisers any day.  I can guarantee that I will always be honest and forthright.  It’s a trait I admire about myself.

c)       Ask me about my weight.  I’ll hip you to my journey over the past few years to become a whole person – which matters more than the number I show on the scale.  I have seen that decision show on the scale – slowly and surely.  And I believe it will continue to do so.  But making someone else feel comfortable with me because I’m fat is no longer as high a priority as making ME feel comfortable about me.

Not long ago, I had a dear friend ask:  “Darren, if a church told you ‘lose 75 pounds by Christmas and we’ll hire you’, would you do it?”

My response:  “Not a chance.  If a church cannot see WHO I am beyond how I look – they don’t deserve the excellence, character, and authenticity that I bring to the table.  I wouldn’t want a church who felt like that was a necessary caveat.”

I am a fat, over forty, fractured resume youth pastor….a really, really good one.  There are deeper qualities about all of us…look for them.

Author: Darren Sutton

I've been in student ministry nearly 30 years…which generally just confirms how much I still don't know. Some days I'm the pizza-eating, over-responding, teaching-on-the-fly, desperate-for-volunteers, frustrated-with-co-workers youth leader that we all are. And sometimes…I knock it out of the park. I'm everywhere on social media that you are!

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