There is no question that pastors have it rough. They are always on call and constantly dealing with hard things such as loss and tragedy. Answering tough questions and walking through the Christian life with their congregation. They have a flock to attend to and those sheep need a shepherd.
Occasionally a pastor falls into sin. This fall may be private at first but usually becomes public with time. Though we know we are all imperfect, we are all a little surprised when our church leaders sin. We expect our pastors and elders to set the standard. The pinnacle of a functional Christian who has their life together, one we can emulate.
One of the reasons we are surprised by our leaders fallibility is that we have an unrealistic expectation of those in that position. Yes, biblically they are called to be above reproach and without blame but that doesn’t mean they are perfect. We tend to hold our pastors up on a pedestal and there will always be some of us who continue to do so. The other reason though is that our pastors aren’t transparent with us.
Above reproach and blameless doesn’t mean perfect, it means that no one can accuse you of anything. When we live in secret we give potential for accusations, especially when we fall. Sin loves secrets. Sin loves the darkness. In darkness sin has the potential to fester and grow in a way it cannot in the light.
The problem here is two-fold. Pastors don’t want to portray that life as a Christian is hard and is full of struggle. They want to bring hope to those in sin and at times feel that if they express a shortcoming they will disappoint those who hear. The other reason is that we as the flock, are typically unforgiving of our leadership. We hold them up and forget they are just as human as we are. Their college or seminary degrees don’t purge them of sin. They are being sanctified daily as we are.
I presented this question to the followers of The Dirty Christian Facebook Page :
“If pastors were more transparent with their congregations about their struggles we’d……”
I wanted to see the response from those who attend church. The majority said they’d feel more comfortable bringing their issues to those transparent pastors. Below are some of the responses.
“It’s okay for a pastor to let the congregation know that he’s not a Super Saint, but there’s a limit to how much needs to be discussed in public, and how often.” – Tim Williams
“Unfortunately we would persecute them more. (The church as a whole has a habit of treating pastors like they should be Jesus reincarnated )” – Angela Stelzer
“Sadly the pastor is generally the most knowledgeable person In the building. So the expectation is he is living it out more than the congregation. Is the expectation fair, probably not. This explains why churches fall apart when the pastor makes a mistake, the people hold him up above themselves.” – Bradley Mason
Though there were a few who expressed they would be displeased or even leave the church, the majority was that we want our leaders to be open with us to a point. Though I agree not every sin should be shouted out from the pulpit, pastors should have elders who they are accountable to for issues that can be confessed and repented of. At least in this case, the eldership would already be aware of the sin and be able to speak on behalf of the pastors.
What do you think? Comment here or on the TDC Facebook page (linked above).