Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Pastor In Weakness

The ongoing relationship between pastor and people often displays an interesting dynamic. One that is either sick or healthy. 
We expect our pastors to have somehow reached perfection -- they do preach from a holy book, after all, and they do stand before the altar! 

But the truth, of course, is that they have not reached perfection, and they will not. When this is discovered, as it inevitably will be, the congregation has a choice to make. They can either accept the pastor with weakness or they can reject the pastor and move on to find the next one. (I should add that the pastor will have the exact same decision to make as well.)
St. Paul found himself in conflict with the churches in Galatians, and he reminded them of how they had indeed accepted him in all his weakness:  "Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News of Christ.  But even though my sickness was revolting to you, you did not reject me and turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself." (Galatians 4:13-14 NLT) 

Powerful stuff!

If the pastor and people can somehow overcome the initial shock of pastoral weakness, what often happens is the development of a unique friendship that over time pays rich benefits of a deepening relationship in the lives of both pastor and people. For, what can then evolve are realistic expectations and a depth of ministry based upon the flesh-and-blood of a real world brokenness. This is fertile ground for daily conversion.