Isn’t it funny (sad really) how ruthless and mean some people are in an email? They will emotionally vomit into a keyboard in ways they would never actually speak to someone. They will use emoticons, CAPS, and an over-abundance of exclamation marks to make their point!!!!!
I’ve had people use language in an email that would make a trucker blush.
There’s something about sitting alone in front of a computer rather than looking someone in the eye that often brings the worst out in us.
For some reason, Part One of this post, stirred up some passionate and negative reactions. Thankfully, there were also some very kind responses. But I have more to say, so being a glutton for punishment, let’s dive into three more things some folks don’t know about pastors.
1. Your pastor thinks and cares about you more than you probably realize.
Regardless of the size of the church, pastors are shepherds. We take our responsibility seriously to protect and care for the sheep. Your pastor probably notices when you are gone. He knows where you typically sit. Even if he calls you “Bob” and your name is Barry (some of us are old), your face is still embedded in his heart.
Every Saturday, I invest time walking through our auditorium praying. I lay hands on the chairs, and I ask the Father to work in the hearts of His people. Every Monday, I get the prayer requests from our congregation, and I often weep over their needs. Why? Because most pastors put people over programs. We know that only people are eternal, and we deeply understand that Jesus died for people. Trust me, you matter to us more than you know.
2. Your pastor has probably developed a thick skin, but he still has a tender heart.
Every Sunday we are evaluated. Every Sunday people decide to stay or leave based on what they hear or experience. Every week we work hard to proclaim grace and truth. But just about every Monday somebody complains about something. “The music was too loud.” “I don’t like the way we took communion.” “You talk about money too much.” “I disagree with your position on that issue.”
The fact of the matter is, though we value constructive criticism, long ago most of us stopped trying to keep everybody happy (check out Galatians 1:10). We’ve accepted the reality that some will love us and what we do, and some will not. We’ve also learned that sometimes our greatest fans shift and become our greatest critics. Strong leaders are often polarizing, but we believe strong yet humble leadership is necessary (for a good example, see Jesus).
Years ago, my pastor, a thriving mega-church leader was asked, “What do you consider to be your greatest success in ministry?” Without hesitation, he replied, “That I haven’t grown cynical.” In other words, despite the fact that sheep sometimes bite, his heart was still tender. Mine too.
3. Your pastor is perfectly imperfect (just like you).
Most pastors have no desire to be placed on a pedestal. We are intentionally transparent about our struggles because we want you to relate to us, not worship us. We understand our perfection in Christ and yet our imperfection in practice. Like you, we are a work in progress.
Practically speaking, that means we will occasionally say something stupid or maybe even theologically incorrect. Gasp! Sometimes we will react to a situation rather than respond like Jesus. Sometimes our thoughts are anything but the mind of Christ. This is not an excuse for sin, but an explanation of our humanity. So we need grace and mercy (just like you). Maybe you could forgive your pastor as God has forgiven you?
On a regular basis I remind our people: I am not the perfect pastor, and we are not the perfect church because there is no such person or church.
A final thought . . .
I love the Church. As a preacher’s kid and pastor for the past thirty-five years, I have a profound love and appreciation for pastors and the Bride of Christ. If anything I’ve written here or in part one of this post has offended you, forgive me. That being said, perhaps you would be wise to consider why I’ve pushed your buttons. Is there a church or pastor you need to forgive?
Remember, forgiveness is His way.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)