People put pastors on a pedestal, and rightly so. Pastors are called to be examples to their flock. They are to lead by modeling spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness. Pastors are men who are to be above reproach. Many people look to pastors as super Christians. Although they might struggle with sin or find it difficult to spend time in prayer, the pastor doesn’t, at least thats what people think. Many people envision that pastors have a special connection with God or even a direct line to him that normal Christians just do not have. All of this is just hogwash. Pastors are just like every other Christians, sinners saved by grace. Although a pastor is called to lead by example, the idea of a “super pastor” is a lie. We struggle with personal sin. We find it difficult to love our wives and families well. We sometimes struggle to find our joy in God. There are even times in which preaching on Sunday morning is the last thing we want to do. If you are a pastor reading this, you know this to be true. Yet, pastors self-inflict themselves with a demand to maintain the image of “Super Pastor”. We think we must always have the right answers even though we do not know, and we must always seem joyful even though we are in a season of melancholy, and we must always seem righteous even though we struggle with hidden sin. Not only is this the hight of hypocrisy, the pressure to carry the weight of this projected image will one day cause our collapse.
Pastor, the best thing we can do for ourselves and for our people is to shatter the illusion of “super pastor”. We must invite people into our brokenness and remind them that we too desperately need Jesus each and every day. They need to see that you too are a real person, who sometimes struggle to follow Jesus. They need to know that Jesus is the only savior, not you. Here are a few ways you can help shatter the illusion of super pastor not only for yourself, but for your church.
1. Don’t Make Yourself the Hero
Its easy to be the hero in all your own sermons and to spin illustration after illustration of your own illustrious spiritual life. Don’t do that. You are not the hero, Jesus is. In your sermons constantly be pointing to Jesus and pastors need him too. Share stories (where appropriate) of your own failures and struggle to obey the text your preaching from that Sunday. Talk about your failures as a Christ follower, a husband, or a dad. Although we want to make sure we are being appropriate and we do not want to be self-effacing to create some guise of profound humlity, we do want to be reall with our people. We want to invite them into our lives and even be vulnerable both publicly and privately. Again, caution and discernment are important here, but we must not seek to create an image of infallibility. We are not the hero, Jesus is.
2. Ask Others for Forgiveness
Pastor’s mess up a lot. We make mistakes. We speak in the flesh. We hurt other staff members in our actions. When we do sin, we must be quick to confess it and ask for forgiveness. Own up to your error and ask your brother or sister to forgive you. Every time your confess sin and ask forgiveness you begin to shatter that illusion of super pastor, and people begin to see you too as a sinner in need of grace. However humility in this way will not hinder your leadership, but help it. No one wants to follow a man who thinks he’s always right and refuses to admit he’s wrong. By displaying humility and confession not only do we shatter the illusion of our own perfection, we actually lead our people more faithfully.
3. Ask for Help
You cannot do it all. I’ve tried, trust me. Pastors must be quick to ask for help for the demands of ministry whether from another pastor, deacon, or another church member. When you ask others for help it encourages others to join together in the cause of ministry and helps raise future leaders. When we ask other people in our church for help, it shows that we are not super pastors and we need the body of Christ just like every other Christian.
4. Ask for Prayer
Ask others for prayer when needed. Again, this must be done when appropriate, but do not think so highly of yourself that you cannot ask others for prayer. We need other people to be interceding to the father on our behalf, because we need the body of Christ!
These are just four simple ways that pastors can begin to shatter the illusion that we have it all together. We don’t. Pastors need the gospel just like every human being needs the gospel. We are broken sinners whose only hope is Jesus. Pastor, make sure your people know that you are not the epitome of a Christ follower. Any maturity in your life is by the grace of God, and continually point to Jesus as the hero, and not yourself. The only super pastor who ever existed was Jesus Christ. He is the one your people need. Point them to the true super pastor.
Have you ever felt the pressure of maintaining a perfect pastor image? How are some ways we can shatter this facade?