Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Pastor and the Pedestal


Whether they climbed up there themselves or were given a boost, pastors usually find themselves on a pedestal. Even if a pastor tells his or her congregation that they are a sinner saved by grace like everyone else, it is hard for a congregant to believe that. Pastors are usually only seen by their parishioners on Sundays, elevated on a platform, wearing their Sunday best, hands raised in worship and preaching the Word of God. It is difficult for someone sitting in the pew to relate to that perceived perfection. And it makes it hard for the pastor to find a safe place to go when the pedestal starts to teeter.

     The title of pastor and the perception of the congregation or staff does not prevent the reality of struggling, brokenness and temptation in the minister’s life. A sermon may address the hurting, but who is addressing the hurting preacher? The church is filled with broken people, and so is the pulpit.

     Many pastors are guilty of not practicing what they are preaching. They encourage their congregation to take care of themselves and make sure there is time for a Sabbath, but their own calendar runs them ragged. They preach on nurturing a loving marriage relationship, yet their own spouse is feeling neglected and resentful. They warn of the dangers of sexual immorality, yet many are secretly struggling with purity themselves.

     We are all broken people. We just have different details. Healthy pastors are not “unbroken,” they just know where to go to deal with that brokenness. Healthy broken pastors have safe people in their lives that they are currently and frequently talking to. I heard one pastor say he has a group of people he can go to and they are allowed to ask the tough questions, but I thought to myself, “Are you going and are they asking?” And sometimes, good friends are not enough to help a pastor deal with deep seeded issues that have not been properly addressed and have been buried because the pastor is the one who is expected to have it all together. Professional help is available and often times necessary to provide a safe place for growth and healing.

   God wants all of His children to be healthy in their brokenness, including pastors. If the mantle of the ministry is hindering personal growth and healing, take a leap off the pedestal and find a safe place to land before it topples.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Is Your Bio Authentic?

     I look at a lot of church websites in my day to day routine, and  I was perusing a particular one when I noticed a pastor's bio. His enthusiasm was infectious. He declared he was thrilled to be serving with this congregation and that God was going to do incredible things through his ministry. He seemed genuine. He sounded like he meant every word. Little did I know that this particular pastor and his wife would end up in our counseling office painting a picture that was nothing like the website bio.
     Sitting before us was a broken couple. Their marriage was struggling. He was burnt out on ministry. The pressure he felt was getting unbearable for him, for both of them. As I listened to him share, I realized that many pastors and spouses are in the same situation. Their church website bio may say what's expected, but behind closed doors, their hearts are expressing something completely contrary to what the church sees. Their sermons are well-crafted and exquisitely delivered while their spouses sit on the front row listening attentively, but back at home it's a completely different scene. There are arguments, or worse, perpetual silence. They parent as best they can, but in the bedroom, they are merely roommates.
     Pastor, what would your "about us" tab on your family website say? How contrasting would it be against what is portrayed on the church website or in the pulpit? My prayer for pastors is that they would attain an authentic ministry, that the image projected on Sundays would be a genuine reflection of the private life that is led behind closed doors instead of a cover-up.
     We were not meant to live this life alone. If anything above rings true for you, reach out for help. Find a safe person to be vulnerable with and let healing begin. God's desire is for you to be authentic, and that is our ministry goal as Missionaries to Ministers.