Pastors tend to be very guarded people. It’s surprising because we are the go-to person whenever anyone else is in crisis. People tell us their problems in counseling. They come to us with marriage issues, trials, temptations, parenting challenges, financial problems and everything in between. But pastors themselves often have a very hard time being that transparent themselves.
There’s a number of reasons pastors don’t open up — embarrassment, pride, reputation and even a fear of losing the ability to pastor — but none of these is reason to remain emotionally isolated.
Here’s a reality check: pastors get hurt, they get frustrated and angry, they have marriage problems, they sometimes don’t know what to do with their own kids, they burn out, they have temptations and, yes, they sin. It’s a heady thing to maintain the position on the false pedestal people willingly give us, but it’s not what Jesus desires for us.
Every pastor needs some relationships where they can take off their pastoral role and just be themselves — with all their wounds, warts and bewilderment. They need a relationship with so much trust that the hard questions and answers can be given without fear of reprisal. They need such a steadfast friendship that they can openly talk about fears, failures, temptations and even addictions, knowing they will get both love and help.
I’ve known too many pastors over the years — both as a friend and as a denominational executive — who played in the relationship as if it was transparent, only to later surprise me and others with a moral failure. And in no case was that discretion a momentary lapse in moral judgement. Whether the issue was financial, infidelity, addiction or something else, it had always grown over a long period of time. And at any point that pastor could have come to me or others for help. But they chose secrecy.
Friend, this is important. Do you have that kind of relationship? Do you regularly connect with someone with whom you can be completely transparent? Your character and your ministry need this (incidentally, so do ministry spouses). We all need to guard our hearts, but we also need friends who can both run defensive tackle for us and can minister to us when we are in need.
Need a mentor? Would you like to know more about these trusted relationships? Feel free to contact me using the Contact form on this website. And if you find these posts helpful, why not pass them on to friends? I’d appreciate it.