Steve Brown tells seminary students that the reason God called them to ministry is because He knew how bad they’d be if their job didn’t depend on them being good. The more pastors I meet and the more I hear their hearts, the more I believe Steve isn’t just being shocking but brutally truthful.
So why did I pursue this? Why did I study for seminary exams? Because I think things will change. They have to! And I believe my pastor’s kid wife will be leading the change! Here is something she wrote today that blew me away. I had to share it with you!
This is what she wrote:
“We are all human. Aren’t we? All except for our pastors. They are “called.” Set apart. Super-human. How could we ever follow them otherwise?
“They must have the best quiet times. The best counsel. The best small talk. The best memory (who wants a pastor who doesn’t know their name and the name of their neighbor who’s hurting and their first cousin who has cancer).
“They must be available and wise and leading in service and discipleship and constantly in prayer and communion with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and all the while remaining relatable and easy to connect with.
“They must have time for us when we need them and they must work hard according to the standard set by each individual in the congregation. After all, it is our money…well, God’s money and we must be good stewards.
“Pastors must be accountable to anyone who wants an account and ready to hear the opinions, critiques, advice and “words from the Lord” offered by concerned parishioners.
“Pastors must be able to forgive and not judge, although they are constantly scrutinized, and through all of this, they must be able to come home, leave work at work, and be there to love and cherish their families.
“They must have a rock solid marriage that sets an example of Christ’s love for his church and their parenting must be grace-filled, thoughtful and patient…and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on…
“But most of all, Sunday mornings! Sunday morning, we must laugh, weep, worship, be inspired. We want intellect that connects. Relatable but surreal experience.
“Who the hell do we think we are?! The kids from “Mary Poppins” making a list for the perfect solution? Well, I call bullshit!
“We are killing people’s hearts. We are killing people’s marriages. We are building our “tower of Babels” and God is tearing them down.
“No man can carry this pressure. No man can fulfill this expectation. Enough is enough! Someone has to speak up! And I think today it’s supposed to be me! Tomorrow it might be you.
“I remember sitting in a church “family” meeting nearly 14 years ago watching my family’s life ripped apart. But that’s nothing special. The same is happening in another church somewhere at this very moment, I’m sure. I’ve always remembered the words shouted out at that meeting by my baby sister, “What about our family!” That echoes often in my heart and it aches.
“What about a pastor’s family? What is left when everybody has had their share of him? What is left when we’ve shackled him to producing true, heartfelt messages each week – messages that we’d like him to be on the other side of – messages that show redemption, freedom from sin, obedience, wrestling – but completely wrestled though. We want the take away. We don’t want to join him in the struggle.
“We are killing our pastors’ hearts. I believe, for our benefit, God continues to speak through them even so. But how could they not start to feel used, cold, exhausted, stuck and angry? What would you do if you weren’t free to not know something or not care for a little while. Ooh, that really scares us, doesn’t it?!
“Your pastor is a man. He might be my husband. Or my dad. He’s somebody’s.
“Your pastor has struggles and not just with consistency in his quiet times or obeying the traffic laws. Your pastor needs grace and community. Your pastor needs the freedom to be honest (and so does his wife).
“I believe God has called specific men, specific families, to be proclaimers – to live inside this professional ministry snow-globe, but it must look differently! I’m ready to knock down walls. I’m ready to re-think. I’m ready for the life and freedom that a life lived honestly can bring. It’s scary and it’s new.
“The death that results from the false, fake, over-produced, over-worked, over-analyzed, over-exhausted Pastor will not take my family down without a fight! I will fight for my husband, for my dad, and for all pastors.
“Something new must start today!”