I was very excited to read Craig Groeschel’s new book Confessions of a Pastor. I loved Chazown and was eager to read his latest release. It wasn’t as good as Chazown, but it was still good. I was under the impression that the book was geared towards Pastors, which it wasn’t, but there was still enough great stuff to keep me interested.
What I do love about the book is the premise: dropping the pose and being real with God and others. One of things I see to often is people becoming Christians and getting more fake than real. Recent scandals in the church have caused me to examine my own heart and desire more authenticity rather than putting on a show.
When we started our church, I felt as though I had to be the perfect Pastor, who always knew the right thing to say, who always dressed the part (I wore a tie for the first 2 years of our church and I was the only one in the church wearing one), and was entrenched deep into the Christian sub-culture. All the Christians in my church were happy that I was 28 and acted like I was 50. However, I was miserable. I got into ministry to serve Jesus and I found myself serving people’s picture of the perfect Pastor.
That’s when I decided that I was going to be myself and let the chips fall where they may. This pissed off a lot of people (Sorry, I know a lot of Christians don’t use that term – let me say it in christianeze: many Christians were “grieved in their spirits”), but I found a new freedom in just being myself. Needless to say, a lot of people left our church that year and looking back it’s the best thing could have happened to me.
There’s countless churches where the Pastors are playing a role they believe the people want him to play and I guess OK if that’s you. It’s just not me. It has never been me and will never be me.
God saved me at age 19. I was a musician who was on the verge of a record deal. I later joined a Christian band that had signed a two-album deal and we intentionally decided to skip the church and youth group scene and 90% of our chows were at clubs and bars. We saw ourselves as missionaries called to preach the Gospel where unchurched people were (and they weren’t at youth group). That’s who I am. I’m the guy that wants to go where people who are far from God are. But here’s the rub: you can’t be somebody else and go there. They smell that a mile away. Christians can’t. We revel in the poses and facades. We applaud it. That may sound harsh, but in 13 years of following Jesus, I think it’s true.
My wish is that every Pastor would just be themselves. As funny as it sounds, it is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I feel a pull to go back to the facade all the time, but I can’t. I have to be me. And if people don’t like that, then I accept that. But I have to be the person that God created me to be.
Why do I say all this? Because Pastors leave ministry not because they don’t like people. Pastors leave because they can’t be themselves and be in ministry. That is a tragedy and it has to stop. It starts when Pastors decide to be themselves and not live for the approval of people, but instead, the approval of ONE. (Rant over.)
(Oh, and buy Craig’s book. It was really good.)