You Look Weird When You Do That

I continue to reflect on eleven years of interim ministry. I love criticism. I am at peace with the fact: “Not everybody has liked Jerrie Barber in the past; not everybody likes Jerrie Barber today; not everybody will like Jerrie Barber in the future.” Read more: Criticism Rule

This one caught me off guard. I taught a Wednesday night Bible class. I remarked during class, “I think we’ve had our last killing frost for the year. It’s about time for me to get my burr haircut.”

On the way to the elders’ meeting, one of the elders said, “Jerrie, you might want to mention your haircut in the elder’s meeting tonight.” I was confused, “Mention to the elders I’m getting a haircut tomorrow?” “Yes,” he said, “They’d appreciate it.”

I want to please my elders. As the meeting began, I said, “I plan to get my hair cut tomorrow. I get a burr cut for spring and summer.”

One of them responded, “Thank you for telling us. We would appreciate it if you wouldn’t do it. You look weird when you wear your hair like that.”

I was almost speechless. I replied, “Brethren, I can’t believe it. I’ve heard of elders who don’t want a preacher to wear his hair too long. I’ve heard of a few churches with a rule that if a man’s hair touched his collar or his ears, he couldn’t serve in public. I’ve never heard of elders concerned about the preacher’s hair being too short.”

This discussion continued for what seemed like thirty minutes. I was in a daze. I looked across the table. An elder had his head shaved and a beard that reminded me of the Duck Commander. Their rule was: an elder could have no hair on his head and much hair on his face, but the preacher looked weird with a buzz haircut.

After a long discussion, an elder said, “Brethren, I wonder if we don’t have bigger fish to fry than telling Jerrie how to wear his hair.”

Thank you, brother, for the relief.

I had nightmares three out of the next four nights. I dreamed of elders knocking on my door in the middle of the night, telling me I looked weird with short hair and other variations of the dream theme.

What Did I Learn From That?


  • If you have preferences in dress or hairstyle, please discuss your expectations in the interviews selecting your next preacher. I had interviewed with them the summer before, wore a burr cut all summer (until the first killing frost when I start letting it grow out for the winter), and they said nothing about it.
  • Don’t expect different standards of your preacher from what one or more elders practice.
  • I reviewed these suggestions as I was leaving.


  • Ask about dress codes for the preacher and other men serving in public during the interviews.
  • Are dress codes different Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night?
  • What are other appearance expectations for you and your family?

What unusual criticisms have you had, and how did you deal with them?


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Jerrie Barber
Disciple of Jesus, husband, grandfather, preacher, barefoot runner, ventriloquist

6 Responses to “You Look Weird When You Do That

  • Jerry Stumpf
    6 years ago

    One congregation I worked for told me after I got the job I had to wear a coat and tie anytime I entered the building, all week. The only exception was when we had special days such as VBS or “fellowship” meals.

    We do learn as we go don’t we!

    Thank you for your candor, and your wisdom.

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      6 years ago


      I heard of one preacher who mowed his yard in a suit and tie — his choice.

      • Jerry Stumpf
        6 years ago

        As mentioned below. What would the neighbors think of someone who did this?

    • Jesse Tubbs
      6 years ago

      Jerry, having been a preacher for a good number of years and then also having a sales career for over 25 years, I sort of have a middle ground on this thing. As to dress code, I worked as a professional salesman and there was an expectation for all sales persons to dress up to the level of our client. Since I called on clients like Boeing, Lockheed, LG, and the like I followed their lead. The jacket and tie got me in to see the people that I needed to see. Casual dress would not have gotten me in the door. I have heard that outsiders don’t care how we dress. This is not any more true in church work than in any other professional situation. By the same token, even the big companies have “casual Friday” and so it seems logical that we should not be silly about a dress code but be flexible. But there is something wrong when we look at times like worship as an opportunity to exercise our “casual Friday” attire. I have even heard some say, “I wore a tie all week so I am not doing it on Sunday.” Don’t you find this approach wrongheaded or maybe even wrong-hearted? I am not trying to legislate to Christians how to dress, but preachers could take it to heart. This is an OPINION.

  • wtomhall
    6 years ago

    No wonder we are not reaching the lost! We have lost our focus. W. Tom

  • So if the members especially leaders notice things like this, what would we think that the world outside would think as they observe our actions not only as we portray our Christianity in and about our meetings but in our daily life?