In the news recently; a pastor of a megachurch resigned because of a moral failing which he said disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church. Every media outlet covered the story. The story line was predictable. Another halo is askew and more opportunities for pundits to point out that if “Gods right hand man” doesn’t believe enough to live by what he is preaching, why should we?”
Stories like this one sadden me. Not because I am being judgmental. We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because some of our leaders are highly educated, or charismatic or excellent communicators. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. If we are not careful, we create mini-gods of them in our minds and hearts. That creates unrealistic expectations in leaders, and unrealistic expectations are the foundations for failure and disappointment.
Our reverence and respect for pastors and religious leaders tend to create a taller and taller pedestal. When something happens the pastor has only one place to go. They fall….downward. And the higher the pedestal, the louder the splat when they hit the ground.
The pedestal grows when people assume that the pastor has it all together. They assume the pastor is more spiritual and is above all the trials and tribulations of normal people. They have a red phone to God. The congregation looks at the pastor and says, “Wow, I am so far behind my pastor spiritually. I am unworthy. Why isn’t God working in me the way God’s working in him?”
Let me stop for a second and make an important point. It is appropriate to look to the pastor as a leader. They are called, qualified, and ordained to be leaders. But the qualification for leadership is not being holy or perfect. Rather, I believe, pastors should be humble and live transparently and leading others by example. Jesus was perfect, pastors are not.
Especially your pastor. I simply don’t have it all together, so don’t expect me to be perfect. Don’t expect me only to deliver messages from the mountaintop with the wind and Holy Spirit in my hair. I have found God in the deepest valleys, and driest deserts. Many of you have as well.
And please do not have expectations of me that you don’t have of yourself. We are all learning and growing, we are all travelers on a journey. We are all engaged in holy work – the stay at home mother, the computer salesman, the dad, the grandparents, the policewomen, the soldier, the politician, the nurse or secretary and the professional athlete. We are all called and every part of God’s body is vital.
Yes, Northstar has been very successful and that trend seems to be continuing. And yes, Easter was the best weekend in the church’s history. But that is not me, that is God blessing what we are doing. So take me off any pedestal. I am just like you, flawed, but trusting God to mold me to His will.