Have you ever wondered why your pastor seems closed off, guarded, and protected at times? Do you ever wish you could be closer to him than you actually are? Do you find yourself frustrated with him because he has trust issues?
You support him and encourage him. You have even expressed how you would never leave him and that he can always count on you. Well, I hate to say this, but he’s heard that before. He’s heard it a thousand times, over and over. And a thousand times those words faded after the well-intended staff member or church member slowly began to realize their pastor is human and flawed.
Pastors are afraid that the closest to them will one day betray them. We wonder if we can share the deep wrestles within our souls without having it later be used as ammo to shame the depravity of our humanity. Pastors are afraid to let anyone know that when the layers of their pastoral image are peeled back, there is a deeply deprived soul, just like yours.
However, congregants don’t usually like the thought of that. They create an image of their pastor that portrays a pure and perfect theologian, counselor, friend, and forgiver who never lets anything get to them. If that is you then you may not like this next part.
Your pastor is not perfect, and he never will be. You may want him to be Jesus in the flesh, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t be that for you or anyone else. My soul is disturbed when I see a pastor idolized then dehumanized by those around him. People idolize his giftings and shame his shortcomings.
It’s not very hard to see why so many pastors struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicide. So often we feel like there is no safe place for us. As pastors, we are often placed on pedestals that were never meant for us to be placed on. So how should we hold the pastor to a high standard, yet understand that he is human?
1. Create Space For Grace
News flash, your pastor is a sinner! It’s not if, but when, your pastor sins, how you perceive/treat him is huge. What if his insecurity manifests itself in an ugly way? Will you still love him when his performance isn’t up to the standards set before him? Your pastor will not only deal with socially acceptable sins, but the unacceptable ones too.
The church must learn to allow the pastor to have a safe place where he can share his struggles without the fear of being fired or judged. I completely understand that there are fire-able offenses in every career, but all I am saying is that the pastor should have space for grace.
2. Remember He Is Human
Make it safe for him to be human. Your pastor has pressures you will never understand. The pressure to preach a homerun sermon every week. Pressures to lead through COVID-19 in a way that pleases everyone. The pressure to keep the staff happy. The pressure of finances. The pressure to have a squeaky-clean life. The list goes on and on.
This isn’t a sympathy party for your pastor. Don’t shame him for sharing and tell him that, “it’s just part of the role.” Don’t take it lightly when he is reaching out for help or thinks he is too weak. Let him be human. Let him share that it hurts. Let him share his insecurities. Let him share that he’s wrestling with depression without fearing that he will be traded in like a used car.
Yes, there is pressure in every career, to rise to the top or to have a “do whatever it takes” mentality, but I do think there is a great sin in the church. That sin is in making your pastor your Jesus. He can’t be all things to all people. As hard as he tries, he can’t do it. He isn’t omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. He is a flawed and broken human just like you and I. He is human. Allow him to be human and make human mistakes.
3. Don’t Lower The Standard of Holiness
Some think showing grace is a complete injustice. Many Christians believe every sin should have its equal penalty. Grace for you, the Christian, is only for those who deserve it.
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our punishment should be the wrath of God, not the wrath of the people around us. That would fit the crime. But because of our sweet Jesus we don’t have to experience that.
Now, I am not saying that we should close the door on the standard of holiness for your pastor, but I am saying we should open the window to the sweet breeze of grace. I do not want to cheapen grace but I do think the church needs to learn how to better extend grace and open the window wider. Extend grace to your pastor today.
You too will one day need all of these things. You will need space for grace. You are human and will fall short of the glory of God, and you too will not want the window of grace to be shut on you when you need it the most.
Choose grace today!