Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pastors Bleed, Too

All too often parishioners see pastors as nothing less than a Superman in a chasuble. They are supposed to be able to deal with anything, handle anything, and remain calm in any situation. With almost a childlike innocence, they are to deal with the problems of their world with gentleness, dignity, and never ending patience. A crisis counselor on demand, the pastor is too often seen as the calm in the storm that walks away untouched by the encounter.

But is this really realistic? Hardly! Not even Christ our Lord could walk the road of this life untouched by what He experienced. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. When the money changers were in the Temple, Jesus chased them out. That speaks of emotion and reaction to situations that ruin too many people's image of Jesus as the young benevolent "sugar daddy", ready to fill our every felt need. Jesus saw our sin, took on the consequences in His own body for our sake, bled, and died. That is a far cry from being untouched.

Your pastor is a far cry from being Christ. He is a sinner. He lies, puts false gods in front of the One True God, curses, covets, and is subject to every sin that is found in his parishioners. But, like you, he is forgiven because of the saving work of Christ on the cross. A slave to the Gospel, despite his failings and yours, the reason why he has the image of a Superman is that he puts the cross first in the midst of a crisis. This is a great example for us as we should be doing the same in our lives.

However, the pastor doesn't go home after staying by the deathbed of a parishioner, sip a cup of coffee, and think to himself, "I wonder if it will be a pleasant day tomorrow" with no regard for what he has just been through. Death caused Christ to weep and it causes pastors to weep, too. Life can do things to them, too. Depression, anxiety, physical ailments, even spiritual anguish are not foreign to pastors. This is why pastors need pastors! By building each other up in the faith, your pastor is ready to take on what is going on in your congregational life as well as can be expected. But, they will make mistakes. Pastors can bleed, too.

So what then? Since your pastor is not perfect can you just get rid of him? Nope! Not any more than you can get rid of your parents, spouse, or children because they are imperfect. Forgive them, love them, and help them. Mirror the love they showed you in your crisis. Mirror what Christ has done for you- forgive them and move on. Just like you, they are doing the best that they can, and they deserve your honor and respect.