Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | January 23, 2009


Sometimes pastoring a church is like wrestling a mule; although, it is not as much fun–AND, you always get hurt worse. As anyone knows, the object of mule wrestling is to pin the mule’s shoulder–either one–to the ground for a count of three.
In pastoring, you just try to survive three weeks, three months, three years, and then three decades or more. Any score between three years and three decades is considered a “pin”.

Generally speaking, mules and churches present themselves for wrestling in one of three stances: the standing, the sitting, or the supine. (Mules don’t run when it comes to wrestling. They are real sports about that. Churches can’t run–they just split.)
The supine, lying down, mule is the easiest to wrestle. If it is alive, then just go over, pin it, and count, “1-2-3”, real fast. You win! However, this never happens. Nothing in pastoring or mule wrestling is ever that easy. Believe me!

Sometimes–when the mule or church is lying down–it is because it is dead. In such cases, it is not considered either sportsmanlike or profitable to wrestle the mule–just take its shoes for scrap iron, cut off its tail for a souvenir , bury it, and then say, “Adios!”

This seems like the obvious thing to do. Doesn’t it? However, to most people’s amazement, many–otherwise intelligent–men do wrestle dead mules. They never learn to simply say, “Adios” in any language or any way. After a while, you never hear anything more from them. Putrefaction gets them–probably. If it doesn’t–it should have.

When a church is spiritually on its side–belly up for all practical purposes–it is probably dead, as well. (Revelation 3:1) In such cases, the church should just be allowed–or even encouraged–to close up. Don’t feel guilty about this particular turn of events. Believe me! You are doing the Lord’s work! The Devil would rather run a church than close it up. Any church that can close–should close! And, a dead mule should be buried.

Secondly, some mules are sitting–hunkered down into a stubbornly steadfast position. It is virtually impossible to pin the mule in such cases. You can try. However, the attempt usually just degenerates into your making a monumental spectacle of yourself. No matter how you try–you cannot get the mule off balance. It is exasperating–believe me. I’ve tried. Many of the men, who attempt this futile assault, die from shear exhaustion or rethink their commitment–i.e. sometimes others rethink their commitment . Or, this decision is made for them by the angry mule or church–which is the best for the wrestler, the mule, and all others concerned. You see, the sitting mule is in what we call in the classic five point stance: the two front legs, its two hind legs, and its rump. It is that rump that gets you. (Most people are not aware that mules have a prehensile rump. It is used as an anchor–of sorts.)

Wrestling a standing mule is about the easiest that it comes. However, there are three ways to make your attack: the frontal, side, or rear assault (or insult–as the case may be). Your choice of tactics determines your success. This is important–remember this fact for later reference.

The rear assault is one of the most dangerous and stupid plans of attack. However, it is the one that EVERY novice mule wrestler tries first–probably for both of the aforementioned reasons. The tail–attached to the prehensile rump–is just a too tempting handle. However, one should remember that this “handle” also works the kick and drag mechanism. If one survives learning that fact, then another–less painful–tact is almost always decided upon. Although, this wrestler [the author] has made the keen observation that there are many men who never make the connection between the pulling the tail action and the resultant kick reaction. Fortunately–sooner or later–the wrestler gets kicked in the head. Usually, this either kills them or improves their thinking skills–sometimes both.
The side attack requires some underhanded–or underbelly–maneuvering. Although you can tip a sleeping cow, you cannot tip a mule–asleep or awake! You see… this particular mule take-down requires that you reach under the mule’s belly, grab the mule’s outside legs, and jerk hard–REAL HARD! However, this never works; because–of course–the mule goes into the classic straddle-stance. In which, he just spreads his legs as far apart in all the cardinal directions–north, south, east, and west. This defensive position places the wrestler in an only slightly less difficult predicament than trying to attack the sitting stance.

Be advised: this tactic is more dangerous than trying to budge a sitting mule. Uncle Floyd found that out. He tried the grab and jerk maneuver. However, the mule did not fall over–he just settled down and squashed Floyd. This is how he (Floyd) met his Maker. There is one move that might work against the straddle-stance. Although, to date, it has never been used on a mule. A pastor friend of mine tried to baptize a rather large woman, who was proportionately afraid of the water. When the pastor tried to dunk her, she locked her arms to the side of the tank and refused to submerge. Although the pastor was applying more than sufficient backward and downward force, she was relentless in her opposition. So, it occurred to the pastor to attempt the knee collapse maneuver. In which, as you might remember from school yard pranks, this is the one in which you come from behind a person and knee the victim in the back of his or her knee–causing the knee to buckle. Sometimes the victim collapses to the ground. This is great humor to some–except the collapsed. Since no one could see him do that, the pastor tried it. Well, it did not work that well. Although it did break her hold on the tank and did cause her to go under, she pulled the pastor under with her. What happened next was more spectacular than a tank full of octopi–at feeding time. Pastor and the baptizee were under the water for a long time. People sat in stunned silence–not knowing what to do. Some thought that they should attempt a rescue; however, they did not want to violate the implied sanctity of the service. Fortunately, since there is only one way to go from the bottom of the tank, the pastor and the woman eventually surfaced–arms flailing. Thus, they survived the watery ordeal.

Listen! The only way to approach mule wrestling and pastoring is head on–the good old frontal approach. Be up front and forthright. Don’t try any monkey–or donkey–business. Let the other contestants see who and what you are. Speak plainly. Be open and honest. Approach the mule–staring it down. When you get close enough, then grab the mule around the neck reaching your arm entirely around the creatures throat and grab the ear closest to you. Hold on with all your might and pull! This should cause the mule to jerk its head in your direction–lifting you off of the ground. At that very instant, bite the mule with all the teeth and strength you’ve got on the soft spot between its nostrils. Become as dead weight and collapse to the floor–STILL HOLDING THE EAR AND BITING THE MULES NOSE! Do not let up until the stupefied mule falls to ground and cries, “Uncle!–Uncle Floyd!!” An easy pin should follow. (I know that the SPCA will condemn this tactic; however, any other take-down gives the mule the advantage.)

If–for any reason–you do not feel that you can mule wrestle in this manner, then NEVER TRY PASTORING!

(C) 2009  Pastor Terry Hagedorn

All Rights Reserved


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