Pulpit Hero.

Photo by evcpics, CC BY 2.0

I get a little nervous when a preacher only preaches his hero-stories, when he seems to be his own marketing guy saying, “This is what Jesus does, and if you do what I’m doing, you’ll make it.”

But I always lean in when the pastor tells me about his failures. When he’s really for real. That time he blew up on someone in traffic. When he lost it with his family. When he quietly refused to help a homeless guy. His sudden shopping spree. Those seasons when he stopped praying and reading the Bible because he was so jaded and burnt out. His frustrations with the church culture, not in a sneering way that points out any one person, but really grieving over our collective lack of passion. The times when he doubted himself, when he doubted God.

It doesn’t mean we imitate all of the above, and pastors are held to a high bar for a reason: but I don’t want the act. I’d love it for a pastor to rip the mic and tell us how much he’s hurting right now and how much he still trusts Jesus to get him through all this and even tell us he’s barely holding on by a thread of his beat-up faith. Hero-stories are okay, but I want to know we’re in this uphill fight together.

Then the pastor isn’t some guy “up there” as if we’re “down here,” and it makes us a little more human too, and this points to our need for Jesus and for grace. The pulpit becomes a haven instead of a tower, a manger instead of a throne. I want to meet there inside our mess-ups, where Jesus is, the real hero of this story. With Him, we’ll make it down here.


8 thoughts on “Pulpit Hero.

  1. Reblogged this on Antiquarian Anabaptist and commented:
    I’m not a pastor, but I’m afraid that as a layman I have just as much of a tendency to want to appear like I’ve got it all together, that I have the answers, and why can’t everybody else just smarten up and do like I do. Deep down I know that doesn’t work. I know I have been more useful to others when I can abandon that attitude. Thank you for another reminder.


    1. Thanks for reblogging!
      It’s still tough for me, too. I wonder if the congregation will judge me or even think I’m disqualified, or at worst, enable them. But then, I see the relief wash over them, and somehow in the long run it motivates more than enables.


  2. I’m not a pastor but I preach at jails, drug recovery programs, and retirement homes. I find it so much easier to be transparent outside of church culture and it should be the exact opposite! Great read, thank you!


    1. First of all, a ton of respect for you and what you do. I feel very much the same way at the hospital. I still love the church and I don’t mean to throw her under the bus, but it does seem the norm to be paranoid about peeling the layers there.


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