I am a licenced pastor. I preach Sunday sermons, I lead outreaches, I have married people and thankfully I have never officiated a funeral, but I can. I do not let my title define me. I do not even allow people to call me pastor- it’s what I do, not who I am.
I have been finding an interesting phenomenon. When people find out (or I tell them) I am a pastor they treat me – normal. Occasionally when people first know me and what I do, they try to not swear around me but if they hang out with me long enough it fades, and I’m glad. I don’t want anyone to pretend to be something they are not when I am around.
I was thinking about this recently because not all pastors are that way. Some live in a bubble. I have seen it way too often. So I wondered why do people not put me in a bubble? I hold the same title, do the same job.
I conclude that there are two reasons: I don’t let people put me in a bubble and I don’t put myself in a bubble. As a people, we want idols and stars. We want perfect people on pedestals to lead the way. No one can live up to that and when they don’t we are so outraged at the bad example they set for our daughters on MTV. If others are perfect we can look to them and not have to be role models ourselves, or we can pretend to be a group that looks really nice on the outside.
The flip side is leaders who are fakers and want people to see them as more exalted than the people they lead. I get the trap – I’ve fallen to it before. Someone is in awe of you for some thing good you did or whatever and it feels good. It’s hard to be vulnerable when your in the spotlight. Your weaknesses and faults show throw exponentially. You talk less about the issues your having or pretend to have it all together so some can look up to you. It seems easier to tell someone you know the way, than to be honest and say I don’t have an answer but let walk this together. The first answer gets you home by 5 while the second means life gets messy and interrupted.
Pastor bubbles suck more than any leadership bubble. The bubble draws attention to ourselves when we are supposed to be pointing the way to Jesus. The very people we’re supposed to be helping, we are hurting. If there is ever a safe place where people can be real, honest and vulnerable it should be the church. Many have failed at this because of bubbles.
If your in a church or organization where there is a leader, please recognize that leaders are people too. We screw up, we hurt people, we make mistakes, we bleed. No one has it all figured out today. We crucified the one guy in history who did. If the leader above you wants you to see them that way then get out fast.
If your a leader, pop any bubbles that come your way. Don’t pretend. Be real, be honest, be vulnerable. It’s true that if you live that way there are people who will go and look for a “better, more perfect leader who has all the answers.” Let them. Jesus said he came for the sick. The sick need someone who can get them to the hospital and I will tell you the church is not the hospital – Jesus is. As leaders and as the church, we are the ambulance.