Category Archives: Life etiquette

Bryan’s Official Locker Room Rules: Revisited

lockers1.jpg(NB: Review of “Crazy Love” below)

I’m disappointed.

I mean, I know not everyone is into theology, books, church stuff, etc., but the fact that my most popular blog post from last year was “Bryan’s Official Locker Room Rules” is a little disappointing to me. And, at 1,042 page views, it wasn’t even close. The next closest was “Handguns and Heaven Readiness” (which wasn’t even my post) at 602.  Lame.  Get this: According to WordPress, the top Google search leading to my blog is now the phrase “locker room rules.”

Geeeez.

That said, if that post has cleaned up our locker rooms a little bit, and rid the world of a few NONGs, then I’m happy to have helped. So, in honor of last year’s most popular TWOG post, and in light of the fact that I rejoined a fitness club last month, I give you, once again, Bryan’s Official Locker Room Rules

~~~~~~~~~

That’s it. I’ve had enough.

So, I’ve joined enough fitness clubs to know that I just shouldn’t join any more fitness clubs. So, what did I go and do? I joined a fitness club last month. And I already regret it.

Okay, I don’t really regret it. It’s good for… well… fitness. But the one hesitation I had in joining a club was that too many people who belong to fitness clubs do not know and abide by the Locker Room Rules, and it drives me CRAZY.

Now, I know that probably only 3 or 4 people who belong to the club I belong to will read these rules, so this will probably have minimal benefit and will amount to little more than a means of catharsis for me. That’s fine. I also already know that I’m going to be too hard on some anonymous people who are probably really fine folks in real life (i.e. non-fitness club life). Well, sorry.

So, just read these, picture smoke coming out of my ears, don’t take me too seriously, have a laugh, and for crying out loud follow the rules.

Rule #1A: Don’t be naked for longer than you need to be.

For the love of all things that are holy, would you please put some freakin’ clothes on, you nasty, dirty old man?! I cannot stress this enough. I don’t want to see you combing your hair with nothing on but your black socks. Who the heck puts their socks on first when they get dressed anyway?! Those come at least after underwear, if not after t-shirt and pants too. I mean, are you serious?! Is this a joke? Or some sort of experiment in social perversion? Does something happen when you turn 70? Does all modesty go right out the window? Do you just figure that everyone’s got more or less the same stuff, and you’ve seen it all in your seven decades, so no one’s going to mind?! Have you given up on life? I really want to know. I don’t hang out that naked in the privacy of my own home. Why in God’s name would you just mosey around completely naked (except for your dress socks) in the locker room—combing your hair, shaving, brushing your teeth, talking to your other old, nasty naked buddies, as well as some younger strangers who are awkwardly trying to be polite and frantically trying to escape from you even though they’re not fully dressed yet?

Please. Please. Get undressed, walk to the shower, towel off, walk (promptly) back to your locker, at least get some underwear on, then (and only then) take care of any other business you have in the locker room. This one is common sense, people.

Rule #1B: If you’re naked, don’t sit on anything.

The other day I was getting ready to set my book, iPod, and water bottle down on the bench by my locker so that I could lock my locker and head out to the gym. Suddenly, nasty old naked guy (see Rule #1A) sat down butt-naked on the bench right where I was going to set my stuff. First of all, don’t ever get that close to me when you’re naked unless you’re my wife. Ever. Ever. Second of all, if I had gotten to the locker room 10 minutes later, I would unknowingly have had nasty old naked guy butt residue on my book, iPod, and water bottle. I’ll never set those things there again. But, where am I supposed to set them?! For the love of God, can’t you put a towel down?! Can’t you just get dressed?! Do you sit down on stuff while you’re naked at home? No way, your wife would go ape! Just have some dignity and get some underwear on, man! Please!

Rule #2: Don’t strut, because we’re not impressed.

The only thing that drives me more crazy than nasty old naked guy is “I’m-on-a-beach-pickin’-up-chicks-in-my-mind” guy. Fellas, this is just a bad practice inside or outside the locker room. Outside the locker room, it’s a little more understandable, I suppose. If my head were as empty as yours and I had nothing else to offer a woman but big muscles, I might do the same thing. But in the locker room? Really?! You’re strutting in the locker room? For whom? Do you think I’m going to reconsider my sexual orientation? Do you think I’m going to tell all my female friends about you? Do you think I’m going to drive as fast as I can to work and tell all my single female coworkers that there’s a handsome, strutting young buck with extremely low self-esteem in the locker room at the gym where I work out and that they should get over there immediately? Dude, you need a role model.

Rule #3: No talking on the cell phone.

Nobody is interested in hearing you make an appointment for your next colonic, and we’re not impressed hearing you make deals with your stock broker. You are a legend in your own mind and you’re not impressing anyone. In fact, it demonstrates that you are an idiot. At the very least, please don’t talk on your phone while you’re standing next to me at the urinal or sitting in the stall next to me. I mean, who are you talking to?! Would they even want to talk to you if they knew what was going on on the other end of the line? Unless you’re trying to talk someone through how to diffuse an atomic bomb, it can wait. Okay, rock star?

Rule #4: Give some serious thought to your choice of locker.

A general rule of thumb is that everyone enjoys a space of at least two to three open lockers on either side of their locker. If the locker room is as empty as it typically is at my gym, and you pick the locker right next to mine (especially if I’m standing right there and am not fully clothed), there’s something wrong with your head. I’m immediately in defensive mode. I’m assuming that you’re not right and I’m either about to be mugged or… worse (let your mind wander). You make one wrong move toward me and you’re getting kung fu-ed right in the grill. Just leave me at least 2-3 lockers’ worth of space, best buddy. It’ll be much safer for both of us.

Rule #5: There’s a time and a place for making new friends.

The workout area is a great place to make friends, friend. The locker room isn’t. If you don’t know me, don’t talk to me there, unless (and only under these conditions) we are both more or less fully dressed and I am not in some compromising position. If I’m in my boxers and I had to bend over to put my socks on (which come AFTER boxers [see Rule #1A]), don’t come up behind me and talk to me. Just don’t ever do that, pal. Whatever you have to say can wait. Seriously, putting on socks only takes like 5-10 seconds. Don’t people know this? Is this not common knowledge? Am I doing it wrong? Is there some nuance I’m missing? Here’s some hints: if I’m avoiding eye contact, giving short answers, moving away from you, putting chairs or other furniture between me and you, or calling for security, it’s probably because I’m not dressed yet and I’m not quite ready to make friends just yet. Nothing personal.

Rule #6A: Clean up after yourself.

Seriously, I thought we all learned this one in preschool. Didn’t we? Was I at some advanced preschool for the highly gifted where they taught advanced subjects like “Throw your used band-aids in the trash – 101”? Or, “Don’t leave your underwear on the floor when you go play – 101”? I really don’t think I’m asking too much, here, fellas. Why in the world would you leave your bandages in the shower area? Am I supposed to use the shower now and have whatever affliction ails you now oozing down between my toes? Razors, soap wrappers, soap… are you leaving them for me? Are you trying to be thoughtful? Like I’m going to pick that up and gratefully use it after it’s been exposed to your (unmentionables). Take it away with you. Your mother does not live at the gym and is not going to come in and clean up after you. YOU NEED TO PICK IT UP.

Rule #6B: Put your towels… geeeeeeez, I mean c’mon this is so obvious!!!

See that bin that says “TOWELS” on it? It’s not an advertisement. It’s not some metaphysical statement about the existence of towels. It’s not where you get them either, smart guy. It says that because that’s where the gym staff would like you to put your towels when you’re finished with them. Notice there are no “TOWELS” signs on the floor, on the lockers or on the hooks outside of the shower stall. That’s because the towels don’t belong there. And if you say anything to me about “that’s what the janitors get paid for,” I will kung fu your face and then tell old nasty naked guy to come see if you’re okay and if you need a hand.

Am I being unreasonable? Seriously, I just want the regular, accepted rules of society to apply to locker rooms too. That’s all. In civilized society, most people behave like civilized human beings. Until they get into a locker room. Then all of a sudden they’re 2 year-olds who just found out that it’s fun to run around without a diaper on and talk to people while they pee on the floor and play with their toy cell phone.

Get it together folks. B out.

Postsermonic Etiquette

crazy-preacher.jpgor, “How to Talk to Your Pastor About His Sermon”

What stinks about writing a post like this is that now, inevitably, people are going to feel unsure about what they say to me after my messages. They’ll hem and haw and wonder if I’m evaluating what they’re saying.

Well, I am. So just deal with it.

I’m going to step up and take one for the (preaching) team here and say a few things about how to (and how not to) talk to your pastor after he preaches. I think I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of encouragement and criticism after sermons enough now to be at least marginally qualified to write this post. I’ll look forward to the discussion, though—especially from you preachers out there.

So here we go, PB’s 8 commandments (I couldn’t think of two more to round out a decalogue) for how to talk to your pastor about his sermon:

1. Don’t say anything you don’t really mean

I’d say that this is the inviolable rule on the matter. Believe me, pastors do love and need encouragement. But not all encouragement is equal (see below). Pastors really don’t want you to tell them it was the greatest sermon you’ve ever heard (unless it was). Most pastors, because of the nature of their vocation and the necessity of being able to see through the facades and masks people use to hide what they really think and feel, have pretty highly attuned B.S. detectors. We know when you thought we tanked the sermon even if you’re saying it was awesome—usually because we know we tanked it.

We also know when the sermon was just okay. If it was just okay, don’t feel the need to say, “Awesome sermon, bro! That melted my face off!” If you say anything, feel free just to say something like, “Thanks for the word, pastor.” A good pastor, at the very least, even if he crotched the delivery, read the Word of God aloud (which has power in itself) and told the truth, so this sort of moderated thanks is appropriate. Most of us are aware of the fact that we’re not Charles Spurgeon. And, even if it was the greatest sermon you’ve ever heard, it is very important to keep #5 in mind (see below).

In any case, tread lightly in evaluating your pastor. Keep in mind how many people are consciously evaluating you in your job. Probably no more than 2-3. Most of us have anywhere between 80 and 1,000 people evaluating us every week.

2. Make your praise easy to receive

It’s really hard for pastors to know how they’re supposed to receive your encouragement and praise. When you say something even as simple as, “Hey, great sermon. Thanks!,” we really do appreciate it, but you have to remember what we’ve been told. We’ve been told (by seminaries; by other pastors) that you’re not supposed to say, “Thank you,” because saying “Thank you” somehow implies that you agree that you’ve got game and that you know you’re a rock star, and so you’re taking the glory for yourself instead of giving it to God.

On the other hand, if we listen to what we’ve been told, then every time someone gives us the slightest compliment, we have to say, “Oh, I’m glad God used me as a helpful instrument in your life this morning,” or something awkward like that. Ideally, we’d like to say both of those things, but all you said was, “Thanks,” so I don’t really want to respond with a 5 minute theological discourse on the concurrent role of the preacher and of God in a preaching ministry.

So, if you really want to bless your pastor after he preaches, do the work for him. Say things even as simple as, “That was really helpful to me, thank you.” So that we can simply respond with things like, “Good, I’m glad!” Or, you might even say something like, “That was great, Pastor, I really thank God for you and your ministry,” so that we can reply with, “Thanks,” without having to worry about it looking like we think God had nothing to do with it.

At the very least, just don’t second guess us when we simply say, “Thank you.” If your pastor has any sense or any modicum of humility at all he’s very aware that he is at best a broken vessel and that God deserves all the glory for anything good that came out of his sermon.

3. Give (constructive) criticism later

A humble pastor won’t mind criticism. In fact, if it’s competent and well-informed, he’ll probably invite it. Most pastors don’t have anyone who is trying to help them to be a better preacher because generally the only people who offer criticism are the grumpy, self-centered, never-satisfied-with-anything types. The intelligent, thoughtful, biblically-minded congregants, for some reason, rarely speak up. Usually because they’re people who love their pastor and don’t want to discourage him. But hear me say that your pastor needs constructive criticism. Three caveats:

First, he might be the sort of pastor who only wants criticism if he’s invited you to give it. Too much criticism, even if its constructive, can be overwhelming and defeating. So, tread lightly with the criticism until you know him well enough to ask him if he’d like your thoughts on his messages, or until he actually extends you an invitation to share your constructive criticism.

Second, constructive criticism includes what he did well, not just what he could better. This should go without saying. You can offer the former without the latter, but never offer the latter without the former.

Third, do not offer your criticism until at least Monday. If you have never preached, you have no idea how spiritually and physically exhausting it is. It’s tiring for him even if he only has to preach once on Sunday. If there are some weekends (like this last weekend for me) where he preaches three or four times, it’s downright annihilating. In that case you shouldn’t be offering criticism until at least Wednesday. So write your thoughts down, tuck them into your Bible, and share your criticism later in the week.

4. Encourage liberally (but remember #1)

Obviously, this one is tied to #3. Pastors need encouragement. No matter how stoic or impervious they seem, Satan is stronger than your pastor and he is exerting all his power to try to run your pastor into the ground with doubt and frustration. View it as a crucial personal ministry in your church to regularly encourage your pastor. Even if he isn’t John Piper or C.J. Mahaney, lay it on thick (provided that you’re remembering #1). You will help him defeat Satan and you will urge him on in working hard to open God’s Word up to his people.

5. Make your criticism and praise specific

This one is particularly important when it comes to criticism. If you don’t have specifics to offer, DO NOT OFFER CRITICISM. It is just not helpful at all to hear, “You know, I think you might just need to put a little more time and thought into your messages,” or “I think you’re trying to hard.” I’m about to try hard to kick all of your teeth out, pal.

Why do you think that? If you would explain yourself clearly and specifically, then I can either disagree with you because I think you’re wrong, or I can agree with your specifics and be helped, shaped, and strengthened by your criticism.

But this also goes for praise and encouragement. Pastors like to know what you think they’re doing well just as much as your wife (or hubby) likes to know what you love about her rather than that you just love her in general. The former is much more meaningful. Tell him what he’s doing well and he’ll build on it and make sure he keeps that strong even as he works on areas of weakness.

6. Talk about yourself

Pastors love to see God’s providence at work. It’s so exciting to me when I preach a sermon and some dude comes up to me and says, “If I didn’t know better I would have thought that you wrote that just for me, because that’s exactly what I’m going through.” That’s incredibly exciting because it is a reminder that God is at work behind the scenes to orchestrate not only the words of the sermon but the response of peoples’ hearts to what is preached. That is an incredibly exhilarating realization, reminding pastors that they are a small but important part of something massive that God is doing on earth.

7. Ask good questions (about the sermon)

If you have a good question about something specific that was said in the sermon, your pastor would love for you to ask it—even if he doesn’t have a great answer to it. Why? Because it shows that you were listening to and engaging with his message. It validates his labor. It shows him that his 15-25 hours of prayer, prep work, thinking, reading, and writing, done to serve you, weren’t wasted. Besides, often times it’s really frustrating only to have 30-50 minutes to speak because often times there is so much more a pastor had to cut out and leave unsaid. For that reason, he may really enjoy being able to say some of the things that he left out, even if it’s only to one person who prompts it with a good question.

DO NOT ask questions about biblical or theological issues not related to the sermon. Your pastor is dialed in to one thing on Saturday night/Sunday morning: his sermon and the sermon text. Send him an e-mail later in the week if you have a question about Open Theism after his message on marriage, smart guy.

8. Think before you speak

This is just a good tip in all of life, but especially so when you approach a tired preacher. He’s not up for your verbal diarrhea after his sermon, especially if he has to preach again in 20 minutes. So, put your thoughts together in your head before you speak, take careful stock of commandments #1-7, and only then fire away.

Preachers truly called by God delight in preaching. They see preaching as a happy burden, even when it’s more burden than happy (which I am happy to say, in my experience, is very rare). But the more happy and less burdensome you can make it, the more you will serve your pastor, yourself, and your church.

The NONGs Strike Back

captainmorgan2.jpgEvidently the NONGs have gotten word of my offensive against them.

(If you are unfamiliar with the NONG, see this post).

It seems they have stepped up their attacks lately in an effort to deter me and my TWOG posse. At least two more volleys have been fired in the last 24 hours alone.

Yesterday I was at the gym, and a NONG of the HAC variety (“hiding around the corner”) ambushed me. I was strolling into the locker room, walking pretty briskly because I only had about an hour to get my workout and locker room time in. Suddenly, as I turned the corner into the locker area, a NONG bolted out in front of me on his way to the men’s room—oblivious not only to common pedestrian right-of-way courtesy rules, but also to the inviolable law that you should never pee naked while standing next to someone in a public place. This is something my mom taught me when I was, like, 2 years old. Sadly, most NONGs have forgotten this well-known axiom.

My walking speed was sufficient that I could very well have bowled over the NONG, tripped, and landed on top of a dirty, rotten, socially reprehensible, nasty old naked guy. I almost kung fu-ed him right in the skull. But then Jesus told me not to do it. Lucky NONG.

And this just in from TWOG reader and Fusion attender Justin Song:Crazy. I also had a traumatic experience at the gym just now. I am not sure if you know where the scale is in the men’s bathroom is but it is near the shower. So I was going to go weigh myself when I turned the corner to step onto the scale and there was a NONG standing on the scale. I totally almost ran into him. Downtown Minneapolis, along with other big cities, have warning lights that alert people on the sidewalk and other motor vehicles when a car is pulling out of a underground parking lot. I say that this should be adopted in locker rooms.

We must persevere. The NONGs cannot succeed in their anarchist quest to put asunder all reasonable social laws. This is not the end, Nasty Old Naked Guy! We shall return! (Please don’t be naked when we get there. At least some underwear, maybe?)

Bryan’s Official Locker Room Rules

lockers1.jpgThat’s it. I’ve had enough.

So, I’ve joined enough fitness clubs to know that I just shouldn’t join any more fitness clubs. So, what did I go and do? I joined a fitness club last month. And I already regret it.

Okay, I don’t really regret it. It’s good for… well… fitness. But the one hesitation I had in joining a club was that too many people who belong to fitness clubs do not know and abide by the Locker Room Rules, and it drives me CRAZY.

Now, I know that probably only 3 or 4 people who belong to the club I belong to will read these rules, so this will probably have minimal benefit and will amount to little more than a means of catharsis for me. That’s fine. I also already know that I’m going to be too hard on some anonymous people who are probably really fine folks in real life (i.e. non-fitness club life). Well, sorry.

So, just read these, picture smoke coming out of my ears, don’t take me too seriously, have a laugh, and for crying out loud follow the rules.

Rule #1A: Don’t be naked for longer than you need to be.

For the love of all things that are holy, would you please put some freakin’ clothes on, you nasty, dirty old man?! I cannot stress this enough. I don’t want to see you combing your hair with nothing on but your black socks. Who the heck puts their socks on first when they get dressed anyway?! Those come at least after underwear, if not after t-shirt and pants too. I mean, are you serious?! Is this a joke? Or some sort of experiment in social perversion? Does something happen when you turn 70? Does all modesty go right out the window? Do you just figure that everyone’s got more or less the same stuff, and you’ve seen it all in your seven decades, so no one’s going to mind?! Have you given up on life? I really want to know. I don’t hang out that naked in the privacy of my own home. Why in God’s name would you just mosey around completely naked (except for your dress socks) in the locker room—combing your hair, shaving, brushing your teeth, talking to your other old, nasty naked buddies, as well as some younger strangers who are awkwardly trying to be polite and frantically trying to escape from you even though they’re not fully dressed yet?

Please. Please. Get undressed, walk to the shower, towel off, walk (promptly) back to your locker, at least get some underwear on, then (and only then) take care of any other business you have in the locker room. This one is common sense, people.

Rule #1B: If you’re naked, don’t sit on anything.

The other day I was getting ready to set my book, iPod, and water bottle down on the bench by my locker so that I could lock my locker and head out to the gym. Suddenly, nasty old naked guy (see Rule #1A) sat down butt-naked on the bench right where I was going to set my stuff. First of all, don’t ever get that close to me when you’re naked unless you’re my wife. Ever. Ever. Second of all, if I had gotten to the locker room 10 minutes later, I would unknowingly have had nasty old naked guy butt residue on my book, iPod, and water bottle. I’ll never set those things there again. But, where am I supposed to set them?! For the love of God, can’t you put a towel down?! Can’t you just get dressed?! Do you sit down on stuff while you’re naked at home? No way, your wife would go ape! Just have some dignity and get some underwear on, man! Please!

Rule #2: Don’t strut, because we’re not impressed.

The only thing that drives me more crazy than nasty old naked guy is “I’m-on-a-beach-pickin’-up-chicks-in-my-mind” guy. Fellas, this is just a bad practice inside or outside the locker room. Outside the locker room, it’s a little more understandable, I suppose. If my head were as empty as yours and I had nothing else to offer a woman but big muscles, I might do the same thing. But in the locker room? Really?! You’re strutting in the locker room? For whom? Do you think I’m going to reconsider my sexual orientation? Do you think I’m going to tell all my female friends about you? Do you think I’m going to drive as fast as I can to work and tell all my single female coworkers that there’s a handsome, strutting young buck with extremely low self-esteem in the locker room at the gym where I work out and that they should get over there immediately? Dude, you need a role model.

Rule #3: No talking on the cell phone.

Nobody is interested in hearing you make an appointment for your next colonic, and we’re not impressed hearing you make deals with your stock broker. You are a legend in your own mind and you’re not impressing anyone. In fact, it demonstrates that you are an idiot. At the very least, please don’t talk on your phone while you’re standing next to me at the urinal or sitting in the stall next to me. I mean, who are you talking to?! Would they even want to talk to you if they knew what was going on on the other end of the line? Unless you’re trying to talk someone through how to diffuse an atomic bomb, it can wait. Okay, rock star?

Rule #4: Give some serious thought to your choice of locker.

A general rule of thumb is that everyone enjoys a space of at least two to three open lockers on either side of their locker. If the locker room is as empty as it typically is at my gym, and you pick the locker right next to mine (especially if I’m standing right there and am not fully clothed), there’s something wrong with your head. I’m immediately in defensive mode. I’m assuming that you’re not right and I’m either about to be mugged or… worse (let your mind wander). You make one wrong move toward me and you’re getting kung fu-ed right in the grill. Just leave me at least 2-3 locker’s worth of space, best buddy. It’ll be much safer for both of us.

Rule #5: There’s a time and a place for making new friends.

The workout area is a great place to make friends, friend. The locker room isn’t. If you don’t know me, don’t talk to me there, unless (and only under these conditions) we are both more or less fully dressed and I am not in some compromising position. If I’m in my boxers and I had to bend over to put my socks on (which come AFTER boxers [see Rule #1A]), don’t come up behind me and talk to me. Just don’t ever do that, pal. Whatever you have to say can wait. Seriously, putting on socks only takes like 5-10 seconds. Don’t people know this? Is this not common knowledge? Am I doing it wrong? Is there some nuance I’m missing? Here’s some hints: if I’m avoiding eye contact, giving short answers, moving away from you, putting chairs or other furniture between me and you, or calling for security, it’s probably because I’m not dressed yet and I’m not quite ready to make friends just yet. Nothing personal.

Rule #6A: Clean up after yourself.

Seriously, I thought we all learned this one in preschool. Didn’t we? Was I at some advanced preschool for the highly gifted where they taught advanced subjects like “Throw your used band-aids in the trash – 101”? Or, “Don’t leave your underwear on the floor when you go play – 101”? I really don’t think I’m asking too much, here, fellas. Why in the world would you leave your bandages in the shower area? Am I supposed to use the shower now and have whatever affliction ails you now oozing down between my toes? Razors, soap wrappers, soap… are you leaving them for me? Are you trying to be thoughtful? Like I’m going to pick that up and gratefully use it after it’s been exposed to your (unmentionables). Take it away with you. Your mother does not live at the gym and is not going to come in and clean up after you. YOU NEED TO PICK IT UP.

Rule #6B: Put your towels… geeeeeeez, I mean c’mon this is so obvious!!!

See that bin that says “TOWELS” on it? It’s not an advertisement. It’s not some metaphysical statement about the existence of towels. It’s not where you get them either, smart guy. It says that because that’s where the gym staff would like you to put your towels when you’re finished with them. Notice there are no “TOWELS” signs on the floor, on the lockers or on the hooks outside of the shower stall. That’s because the towels don’t belong there. And if you say anything to me about “that’s what the janitors get paid for,” I will kung fu your face and then tell old nasty naked guy to come see if you’re okay and if you need a hand.

Am I being unreasonable? Seriously, I just want the regular, accepted rules of society to apply to locker rooms too. That’s all. In civilized society, most people behave like civilized human beings. Until they get into a locker room. Then all of a sudden they’re 2 year-olds who just found out that it’s fun to run around without a diaper on and talk to people while they pee on the floor and play with their toy cell phone.

Get it together folks. B out.