An old friend, Richard, recently called me. He used to live in town and attend my church. For the past seven years or so, he’s been a member of a large church in Phoenix.
We were catching up and reminiscing about old friends when he said to me, “I had coffee with my current men’s pastor yesterday, and he told me some honest things about his marriage and about something stupid he said to his wife.”
I chimed in, “That’s cool!”
He awkwardly paused, and then said with a confused tone, “How is that cool?”
“It’s cool that your pastor owned his stuff and that he’s being real with you. It’s the people who try to hide and deny their sins that worry me.”
Bob said, “I guess I expected the guy pastoring men to be . . . well . . . to be more spiritually mature.”
Without hesitation, I reminded Bob of the many times he heard me tell stories of my idiocy. I also told him we all walk with a limp, and none of us is without a soul blemish or two (or 20).
On this side of eternity, the reality we don’t like to admit, but must, is that we all fall short of perfection.
We say things that hurt.
We do things that offend.
We think things we don’t want to think.
We go places in our hearts that are dark and terribly inconsistent with who we are in Christ.
If you can relate, then welcome to the human race.
Yes, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. Of course we should be growing. The plan is for us to mature in our faith and to sin less.
But most of us miss the marks of purity and perfection on a fairly regular basis — pastors included.
I’ve been in ministry for nearly 40 years. I’ve pastored small churches and a big church. I’ve been on large church staffs. I’ve also been close to quite a few megachurch pastors over the years.
I can assure you of this: Every pastor is fractured, and some more than you might imagine.
But as someone once pointed out, it is our fractures that allow God’s light in and out of our souls.
Because I am broken, I am humbled, and God delights to work with the humble (James 4:6).
Because I am fractured, I am relatable, and people want to connect with a person who is authentic and true.
By the way, Paul, the great missionary and author of most of the New Testament, boasted about his weaknesses.
In another recent blog, I mentioned my new favorite book, People of the Second Chance. If I could afford it, I would buy a copy of this encouraging book for all of my family and friends. It’s that good!
In the book, Mike Foster says, “We don’t need to hide our flaws. We need to own them. We need to ditch perfectionism and own our imperfections. The simple truth is this: perfection is impossible. It’s not attainable. You will never, ever be perfect. Our imperfections are what make us human, and they help us relate to each other. Don’t seek perfection. Seek goodness. Wonderful, messy, love-saturated goodness.”
Foster goes on to write, “Nobody feels more pressure to be perfect than the person in the pulpit.”
Wow. When I grow up, I want to write like Mike!
Let me be clear: Not for a second am I suggesting we just wallow in our weaknesses. Of course holiness matters. I never want to use my human condition of imperfection as an excuse to keep sinning.
However . . .
I will sin.
I will fail.
I am broken.
But . . .
I am growing.
I am free from shame.
I am loved.
When we come to this place of peace despite our imperfections, we find it much easier to love ourselves, to live free of fear, and to love others as we are loved. Grace is grown here.
Yes, your pastor is broken, and it’s okay; you are, too.
Welcome to the fellowship of the fractured.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT).