In my last blog I mentioned the danger of feeding others at the expense of nourishing one’s own soul. In this blog I want to mention a third danger of being a pastor,
THE DANGER OF THE PASTOR NOT RECEIVING PASTORAL CARE…
The pastor is in a unique position of inherited authority and is automatically placed upon a kind of pedestal in the minds of many in his congregation. He is used to being quoted and usually what he says is the final word on most theological and life issues in the church. Sometimes the larger the church, the bigger the pastor’s influence and the bigger his ego grows. Everyone knows he is not perfect, but few view him with flaws mainly because they don’t want to see their pastor in that way. Who wants an imperfect pastor anyway? This constant pedestal of deference and respect coupled with the functional anonymity of the pulpit, the fact that few people really know the pastor and can speak into his life, create a situation where self-deception can breed. And this is especially dangerous because it seems that the pastor is often the only person in the church who does not benefit from the pastoral care he works so hard to give everyone else. Who pastors the pastor? Who continues to mentor him? Who speaks into his life?
The writer of Hebrews warns all believers (pastors included), “Take care brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil and unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Heb 3:12) Thus the Body of Christ has been designed to protect, encourage, warn, and restore us on our spiritual journey so that we do not become self-deceived and hardened by indwelling sin. And if every pastor is on the same journey in his discipleship, then there is something terribly wrong when a church allows its pastor to live a basically anonymous and independent life, WITH NO ONE TO SPEAK INTO IT.
Every pastor must daily admit to himself that he/she is basically broken and in constant need of God’s forgiveness and transforming grace. They must carry about in them the spirit of Martin Luther’s Sacristy prayer, “Use me as an instrument in Thy service, only do not Thou forsake me for if I am left to myself I will bring it all to destruction.” Every pastor must also be constantly preaching the gospel to him/herself and must fundamentally believe that what they need the most is found only in Jesus Christ, who loves them, died for them and forgave their sin completely. As C.S.Lewis has said “He who has God and everything else, has nothing more than God alone.”
The pastor does not need to find his/her identity in their own importance, performance, the size of their congregation, or how much they are sought after as a conference speaker; only in Jesus Christ. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame (merit or accomplishment of my own) but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
So pray for your pastor, that this would be the cry of his/her heart and that they would build and maintain a system of spiritual care for themselves made up of accountability and mentoring by people who love them unconditionally and have permission to speak into their life. Pray that he/she will be driven by the Holy Spirit to seek every means available for their own growth and development (not just yours) to make sure they hold firm to their confession all the way to the end of the race.
Next week’s blog: The Danger of Losing the Joy of Ministry