It’s really hard to pull off being a member of the church while you’re also a pastor, isn’t it?
My theory says I should be fully engaged in the praise, the prayers, the sitting under God’s Word; the reality is I constantly sift, filter, evaluate.
My theory says I should be a member of a small group, asking, discussing, laughing and wondering; the reality is that it takes a very long time to accept that their pastor is just another member, there to be taught, fed, encouraged and rebuked, like any other, and who’s comments carry no more weight.
My theory says I should mean what I say, and that is all; the reality is that can feel I am watched and weighed every time I open my mouth, and I watch and weigh every word as well. My silence can speak, too.
My theory says I should have three non-Christian friends whom I am praying for to invite to church; the reality is that anyone I know, knows who I am already and is on the watch for a subtle, guilt-inducing invitations -and anyway I hardly meet non-Christians in an average day.
I guess your theory, and your reality, say much the same.
And here’s the pastor’s guilty secret…
We give in. We collude with the fact that that’s the reality of being a pastor. I think that’s what most of us do, and I can feel the appeal. It’s the easy option.
The trouble is that it undercuts our message in a deadly way. If being in a small group where people can one-another us is a wonderful means of grace – is it not a proper means of grace for me? If engaging in heartfelt prayer and praise is a central duty of Christians when we gather – is it not a central duty for me? Am I that rare Christian for whom genuine fellowship is an irrelevance, and a decent Quiet Time is all I need? Am I the sole bodily organ that can exist outside the body?
Am I the sole bodily organ that can exist outside the body?
I don’t know how I’m going to solve this, but I am becoming increasingly uneasy and uncomfortable in not solving it. The past two weeks has seen yet another high profile ministry crash, leaving a trail of spiritual wreckage and a plume of non-Christian cynicism. And the lesson again is the deadly nature of being a lone pastor, an unaccountable pastor, a too-senior-to be-talked to-seriously pastor.
It’s time for theory and practice to meet and come to terms. Only one can win. Which will it be?