A few years ago, a U2 song suddenly appeared in everyone’s iTunes collection. Some thought of it as a clever marketing ploy, others treated it like it was an invasion into their music collection sovereign territory. Whatever your thoughts on that media incident, if I could similarly place one song in every pastor’s play list it would be “Numbers” by Weezer, from the Okay Human album. Why would I put it in every pastor’s music library? Or every young person’s music library? Or wait, every elder’s music library? Or everyone tempted to quit their job or everyone in mid-life crisis? Or…?

Why? Because it says something we all need to hear. “Numbers are out to get you.” “They’ll kill you if they get through, numbers.” Okay, hopefully you are intrigued enough to read the lyrics and listen to the song.

Numbers

(Listen Here)

There’s always a number that’ll make you feel bad about yourself
You try to measure up
Try to measure up to somebody else
Numbers are out to get you
Numbers are out to get you
Numbers, ooh

They say that you’re too short to join the team
And your IQ’s too low for poetry
Numbers are out to get you, numbers are out to get you
Numbers, ooh

I hear the sadness in your laughter
So call on me and tell me what you need
Just call on me and tell me what you need

Look at him, look at her, they’ve got a million likes
You better figure out to how to multiply, divide
Numbers are out to get you
They’ll kill you if they get you
Numbers, ooh

I hear the sadness in your laughter
So call on me and tell me what you need
Just call on me and tell me what you need

I’m a one, I’m a zero
In the end, does it matter?
All that we even really know
Is every nail needs a hammer


But the numbers won’t compute
When we love and the two becomes one
(Zero, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen)

I hear the sadness in your laughter
I hear the sadness in your laughter

Songwriter: Rivers Cuomo © E.o. Smith Music

I meet a lot of pastors, leaders, and employees who are anxiously wondering how to survive, thrive, and stay sane in what is shaping up to be a virtual world with a physical extension. Some are seriously depressed about needing to coordinate both online and in-person services and amenities all at the same time. They are constantly checking the numbers. “There’s always a number that’ll make you feel bad about yourself.” And there’s always a number that might temporarily make you feel good about yourself. We try to measure up to somebody else and the numbers indicate that we come up short or low. We scramble to find a way to multiply our numbers.

Carey Nieuwhof recently wrote a blog in which he pointed out “5 Ways Tracking Church Attendance Messes with Your Soul” and I found myself comparing my life and work to that of Carey Nieuwhof. “I hear the sadness in your laughter.”

“Numbers are out to get you!” But the Weezer song also offers a solution for the numbers; an answer that is surprisingly helpful: “So call on me and tell me what you need; Just call on me and tell me what you need.” I might add, better yet, call me up and I will come over. Or let’s get face-to-face over a cup of coffee. In a world that has lost touch with real people, real handshakes, real conversation, the answers may be just that simple. At least, let real human connection be our starting point.