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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pastoral Problem of Failure

If it was not already clear, it seems that pastors screw up too:

A study of pastors sponsored by Christianity Today found that 23% of 300 pastors admitted some form of sexually inappropriate behavior with someone other than their wives while in the ministry
I have often reflected upon the difficulty I would have being a pastor. Not because of some sort of noxious sin problem lurking beneath my Christianized facade. I am confident that I could get up in front of people and present a reasoned exposition of some biblical truth or pressing social matter. I am confident that I could educate a congregation about the systemic evils within our current systems and the call we have as Christians to  fight for the poor and weak and marginalized. But that's not what would really be expected of me. I would be expected to be a mouthpiece of God, not delivering a prepared message, but delivering an inspired message. That's a lot of pressure. I'm not sure I could do it.

I daily sit with pastors of varying denominations, genders and ethnicity, many of whom have very real struggles and problems. These pastors have pressing questions, wrong ideas, doubts, questions and brokenness. They are human. Many of these struggles and problems are kept from their congregations entirely (and maybe rightly so). Because none fall so hard as the giants of the pulpit, whose explication of the Holy writ and prophetic message brings sinners to repentance and lost souls to prostration. Every sermon preached is expected to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, tongues possessed with divinity. Are we not fools to wallow in such self-deceit, believing that every preacher with an MDiv (or not) is endowed with lips of infallibility (or maybe we only think that of our own pastors or priests). How we must burden our preachers with such expectations. It’s one thing to feel compelled to deliver a powerful, reasoned and biblical sermon every service. It is another thing all together, however, to feel compelled to be breathing the word of God, every idea a revelation.

Let us not forget that pastors share in our brokenness, their nature just as fallible as our own and their questions just as pressing. God is bigger than all of this. Maybe his power REALLY is made perfect in our weakness, despite the moral failings of even the holiest among us; despite the abject brokenness of the church and all those who inhabit it. Pastors screw up! We all do. Pastors are wrong as often as the rest of us. But that doesn't matter, because that's not the point. Christ is greater than that. A pastor needn't be perfect in order to bring us the Gospel, he need only be willing, and God will find a way to do the rest.