A question James asked after the last post prompted this one – thanks James!
Number 3. A Pastor should lead the way in being authentic and genuine with those in his congregation. In other words, Pastors should work hard to make sure they are not “aloof” from the people they are leading.
A huge part of the Christian message is the reality that we are sinful human beings, in need of a Savior. Pastors are the same – no exceptions. Too often a Pastor will work to keep himself in a place where he’s perceived as “having it all together” – when we all know better.
I don’t deny that many Pastors ARE in fact, much farther down the road of spiritual growth and maturity than those in their congregations (they should be – right?). That’s a good thing. That’s the very REASON they have anything to offer the people they lead – they are more mature. But to come off as if you are somehow “above it all” and have it all figured out is another thing. Authenticity goes a very long way towards establishing credibility and respect – it’s humility in action. And Jesus said that in order to be the greatest (a leader) we would have to become the least (a servant)…
Another way this can be manifested is in a Pastor separating himself from the congregation – not socializing with them, not interacting except on a “professional” level, not being available outside of office hours. Some people may be thinking, “What? Pastors actually do that?” Yep, quite a few do. It’s a method of “self-protection” that is wrong, but somewhat understandable. Pastors get hurt. Pastors get hurt by people IN THEIR CHURCH! Sometimes intentionally so!!! So, often Pastors will respond by withdrawing. BAD CHOICE Rev. So-and-so!
It’s EXACTLY in those times of hurt and pain that people need to see a leader trust God, even with the emotional hurts that may be on the way, and CONTINUE to be real, interactive, and genuine. Faith is not just for the “easy” times – the times that feel good. Faith is most important in the times when our instinct IS to be self-protective. If we Pastors can get beyond the defensive reactions we naturally gravitate towards and trust God with the pain that’s inflicted on us, we might have a better chance of helping the people we are leading to actually see what it means to persevere, to love without conditions, and to live in a forgiving way.