04 Apr Pastor, Be Known!
Abraham Piper wrote a recent post on reasons why pastors should engage in blogging. He proposes several good reasons; I found the most interesting was “to be known.” He writes:
“You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.”
He concludes: “[Blogging] will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry.”
For those of you with a pulpit ministry, or who have opportunity to teach and preach at other venues, you may often struggle with “being known” both in the perception your people have of you and the perception of yourself that you purvey (intentionally or unintentionally). The pulpit can become a hiding place for pastors. You must be on guard against this. How easy it is to present a less-than-accurate portrait of ourselves in subtle ways. The mental justification is often that if we look good as pastors, then the Gospel looks good to our people – “If I look good, then Jesus looks good.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The notion that the pastor “has it all together” is a dangerous one. Don’t get me wrong – there are clear biblical qualifications for pastors/elders. But never failing, never struggling, never suffering, or never striving never made the list.
Therefore, do what you can in wise and appropriate ways to dispel the notion that you are in some way above the dirt of Christian struggle. This notion is dangerous to your people because it undermines their God-given struggles and lays an undue burden of moralistic guilt upon them. It is dangerous to immature Christians because it leads them to apathy (“I will never be as good as Pastor So-and-So … so no need to try.”) This perception keeps you from your people and draws a false dichotomy that plays them as junior-varsity believers.
This notion is especially dangerous to you as a pastor, because if you are subtly preaching that you have it all together, you may eventually come to believe it yourself.
In the end, your people need to know you are not SuperChristian – no one knows how to relate to perfection. The reality is that struggle with your people. The reality is, your life is not perfect. The reality is, whether you are having trouble putting together your kids’ swing set, having arguments with your wife, struggling with your thought-life, you are in desperate need of Christ at all times in all ways. Do not make your pulpit a hiding place or a wall that shields you from your flock.
Pastor, be known!