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.