"... inexpressible words not permitted for a man to say" (2 Cor. 12:4).
Although the Lord makes the pastor the overseer of the church (Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2), he is not the lord of the church. It is not about him.
The pastor is the messenger, the Lord's servant. He is important, but not all-important.
Preachers should constantly say to themselves, "This is not about me." And they should act like they believe it.
Believing "this is all about me" drives some preachers to post their photos on billboards around town inviting people to their services, to spend outrageous sums of God's money to broadcast their sermons on television—as though no one else is doing the same thing as well as they—and either to puff with pride when the church does well or sink into despair when it doesn't. I daresay there is not a pastor in ten who truly believes that "this ministry isn't about me."
We will save a further discussion on that for another time. At the moment, our focus is on the other side of that coin...
Since the ministry is not all about the spokesperson in the pulpit, it should go without saying that the congregation does not need to know all the goings-on in the preacher's life or home.
The people do not need to know the squabbles, pressures, fights, arguments and so on taking place in the pastor's home. Spare them, please.
The congregation does not need to know the personal spiritual struggles you deal with. If you have doubts about the Scripture—any portion of it—keep them to yourself while doing the necessary work to find the answers. Ask the Lord to help you with it. Read Psalm 73 until it is imprinted on your heart. The writer of that psalm was struggling with the same kind of inner doubt we all experience from time to time. He came close to sharing those doubts with others, but stopped just in time. It's a great lesson.
The congregation does not need to know the pastor has lust in his heart, if he does. I once knew a preacher who, in his misguided attempt at transparency, confided in his sermon that he often struggled with lust. I suppose he felt free afterwards and perhaps a little proud of himself for revealing his humanity to the congregation, but he ended up causing himself a ton of problems.
Thereafter, little old ladies in his church blushed when he spoke to them, just "knowing" that in his mind he was undressing them. That was foolish, of course, but it should have been expected.
Most people simply do not know what to do with this kind of information. Nowhere does Scripture encourage pastors to reveal such.
Preach the word, pastor. Tell us what God has said to you.
We didn't think you were perfect. But we don't need the details of your imperfection.
Let the happy pastor keep private even his outstanding relationship with his wife. Good for them. But we don't need to know this. We can probably tell by our interactions with them around the church. But this is privileged information.
The pastor is justifiably proud of his kids. Junior hit a home run Friday night and Sissy scored big on ACT. Good. We're glad he's happy, but it has no place in his preaching.
The pastor wants to be transparent? After all, our Lord was. On trial before the high priest, He said, "Everything I've had to say, I've said in the open. You can ask anyone who heard me" (see John 18:20). He had no secrets.
No pastor should brag about being a sinner. Those of us who deal with him on a regular basis know it already, and the rest assume it.
Joe McKeever is retired from the pastorate but still active in preaching, writing and cartooning for Christian publications. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.
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