Who are pastors? That’s an easy question to answer, right? Most of us would say these are the people who preach and minister in churches. On the surface, that is correct. The truth of who pastors are is much deeper.
Pastors are people who don’t have all the answers. I have 3 degrees, and all I can say I have other than basic knowledge is student loan debt. My first death as a lead pastor was a church member whose family did not like me (at least some of them didn’t). I experienced so little loss in my life that I was nothing more than just a presence there. I didn’t know what to say and felt so awkward in the moment. I have improved in that area as I see death more frequently as a hospice chaplain, but classes could not adequate prepare me for reality.
Pastors are people with insecurities. We are often afraid for people to notice, so we try to cover it with arrogance and forced leadership. I know from experience that it does not go well.
Pastors are people who bring baggage with them. We have pasts full of abuse and family dysfunction. We bring our struggles of anxiety, depression, and maybe even addictive behavior or temptations. We often don’t feel safe sharing those things, so we portray a life that is altogether while we are still trying to heal from our past or maybe even present struggles.
Pastors are people with doubts and questions. Many of us were taught exactly how we should believe when we were in seminary or growing up in a church or Christian school. Some of us were never given the gift of thinking for ourselves, so we find ourselves in a crisis of faith when we wonder how a good God would take a child from us when we have faithfully served Him. We grapple with reconciling the tough truths of Scripture. I remember telling a pastor search committee I was still struggling with an answer to a particular thing, and the church still called me to be its pastor. They connected because they struggled too.
The bottom line: pastors are people. People who still sin though they try to walk the right path. People who make mistakes though they really want to please everyone. People who try to be top-notch, fail along the way, and get back up.
I minister to pastors who are all over the map. But I have encountered some great ones who love the Lord, the churches they lead, and people in general. As much as their humanity can get in the way at times, they mean well and want to give God and others their best.
As you think about your pastor(s), think about those who have family conflict at home just like you. Those who struggle to organize their time each day to include daily time with God. Those who accidentally say things they regret. Those who need your prayers and encouragement. As you think about these things, stop, pray, and/or send a note of encouragement. It may be the one thing that keeps them from giving in to the belief they are failures. And that could make an eternal difference.