There are days when I feel very inept to be a pastor.
I’ve said something stupid to someone and now they have an opinion of me that is true based on my mistaken comment, but not true of who I really am.
I fear upsetting people with leadership decisions to be made.
I have upset people with leadership decisions that were made!
The reality of my calling to help people grow spiritually is something that seems better fit for a more spiritual pastor. A plastic pastor, even.
Not a pastor who falls asleep when he prays sometimes.
Or a pastor who has a hard time reading the Bible because it feels stale or boring. (Something a more relational, grace-centered mindset as well as this exercise has helped me a lot with, but still something I must discipline myself to do, with help)
It feels like people need a pastor who only talks about how supernatural the Bible is and how excited he is to read it every morning (and does so at 5am of course) with ease and glee.
And always has the right answer for everything.
And keeps everyone happy.
And never has a bad day.
And never gets worried or anxious or insecure.
And never has a bad day.
Throughout church history, we have dressed clergy up in white collars, long gowns and robes, elaborate hats, and a variety of other pastorly decorations. Modern day versions of this can be expectations that a pastor will look, act, and feel like the dad from Leave It To Beaver, with matching goody goody personality, interests, and temperament.
One of the downsides of these types of pastor costumes is that they create a persona, rather than a person. A perfect plastic persona. A persona who fulfills all of the above qualifications that I listed out.
But in reality, no one is like this.
Did you know the Apostle Paul writes in detail about his tendency to sin (Romans 7)?
Did you know the Apostle Paul had chronic anxiety (Philippians 2:28, 2 Corinthians 11:28)?
Did you know that Jesus, though he never sinned, was tempted just as we are (Hebrews 4:15) and also experienced severe anguish (Luke 22:44)?
Jesus was also called a glutton and a drunkard, criticism by religious people who misunderstood his leadership decisions and ministry strategy.
Above all, I’m reminded of Paul’s plea to God to take the “thorn” out of his flesh, pleading with God three times until God answered him with: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
The truth is, we are all weak.
There are no plastic pastors and there are no plastic Christians.
We need to allow our weakness to draw us closer to Christ’s strength. Christ, whose grace is sufficient. Whose grace is everything. Paul rejoices in his weakness because it reminds him how much he needs Christ. Our weakness reflects all glory to Jesus, who is our strength. We are way too messed up and broken to receive glory!
It’s not that we should brag about our sin, or be apathetic about it. We know what sin is and we learn to hate it, but like Paul in Romans 6-8, we will continue to fall into it, especially as we grow closer to Jesus (a great quote I once heard: “The closer you get to the Light (Jesus), the more dirty you realize you are”). And none of us have all of the spiritual gifts. To pretend we do is the height of arrogance. We all have weakness, blind spots, and shortcomings.
We create plastic pastors (and strive to be them) because we think that’s what people need. A role model. A perfect know-it-all, fix-it-all, be-it-all.
And we do need this.
But we’ll never find it in a pastor or in a Christian.
We’ll only find it in Christ.
So instead of trying to be this, or make someone into this, let’s run to and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)
For when I am weak, he is strong.
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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Latest posts by Noah Filipiak (see all)
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- Flip Side Book Club: “The Sexuality of Jesus” & “Male, Female, and the Imago Dei” - November 29, 2019
- Ep. 20: Interview with Jason Redoutey on Vulnerability and Grace Overcoming Shame and Addiction - November 15, 2019