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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pastors and People #5

Rock Star vs. Pastor Observation #3

Here’s a biggie: unlike rock stars, self-disclosure for the pastor is moderated—too much is perceived as unhealthy and compromises our position. 

When I was studying interpersonal communication in college, I heard a story about a guy who was fired from his church for disclosing form the pulpit that he (like every red blooded man in his church) sometimes lusted after other women in his church. Maybe it wasn’t smart to admit that in front of a congregation. Maybe it was risky. Maybe even tacky.

Ladies in the church started wondering if it was they he had the hots for. I felt bad for him. The difference between him and every other pastor is he actually verbalized it.

No one will admit it but people want their pastors perfect.

If you don’t believe me, ask if you can be part of a pastoral search committee some time in your life. Our strict guidelines, our fears, and our spirit of religiosity would probably keep us from hiring men like the Apostle Paul, King David, Moses, or many other biblical heroes.

Though our biblical celebrities have been elevated to rock star status in many ways, their resumes are tainted by a few things— murder, adultery, pride, lies, anger, rage, bad marriages, etc.

Don't get me wrong, we are called to a high standard. But, I'm not talking about the big screwups. I'm talking about the everyday shortcomings. I don’t know when we drew a line in the sand and made new rules for pastors. I don’t know who decided the degree of acceptable self-disclosure and deemed some everyday shortcomings as unacceptable and inappropriate for a pastor. But, here we are.

I want to be a rock star. Not really, just kinda.

I love that rock stars sometimes say the things I am thinking. I just love that they can be themselves.

Something inside me wants to know that if were ever to kick a hole in an amp in my own garage (and I have felt like it at times) that my job wouldn’t be in jeopardy.

I would like to think if I yelled and my neighbor overheard it that I wouldn’t get stares because pastors shouldn’t do that sort of thing.

I want to believe that if I were to say something really dumb from the stage that I could ask forgiveness and be forgiven.

I want to know that if my kid makes a mistake neither one of us would be looked at differently (we’ll talk about the PK—pastor’s kid—thing a little bit later in more depth).

I am not advocating rudeness or callousness or decadence or anything of the sort. I am not looking for an excuse for my thoughts or behavior. It’s just that scripture gives a list of general qualities of an elder/pastor and perfection is listed nowhere. 

I want to be me. Not the me people want me to be. Not the me people think I should be. Just me. I have a story to tell—a story unique to me.

My story is full of mistakes followed by forgiveness. Devastation and redemption. Bad choices that bring deeper insight and maturity.

I am a failure and a victor. 

When I am me—full of blemishes and war wounds— I am closer to my friends who want to be themselves as well. When I am me—open about my failures and lessons learned— my kids talk to me and feel like they can be themselves. When I am me—with my laundry list of “been there-done that” screw-ups— I can offer some great advice to the people who were me five years ago.

When I am me—honest about my fears and struggles— my wife respects me and trusts me. When I am me, I sleep better at night. When I am me, my neighbors want to know about my faith. When I am me, acquaintances ask about my church. When I am me, God does great things through me. When I am me, God pours grace on me. When I am me, I have great conversation with God.

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