Pastoring is much like parenting. It’s easy for parents to either be a best friend or an authority figure, but hard to be both. We pastors run this same risk….
We often function as either hands-off spiritual leaders, neglecting genuine friendship, or as friends first — save the spiritual leadership.
Married parents must first hold an intimate love for their spouses to effectively and purely love their children. It’s out of their love for each other that their love for their children can blossom. And yet, as any parent will admit, it’s easy to love our “children” before loving our spouses. We pastors fall into the same trap. We pass over our relationships with Christ in exchange for what we call “loving” you, even though the love we offer you — if not first fueled by Christ — is inadequate and decaying.
I would like to apologize for my shortcomings and prayerfully consider others whose hearts wrench over this issue. I apologize for the times we have primarily been “just” your friend and have left out the spiritual leadership you lean on us for. We are only flawed humans, but you deserve pastors who are devoted to The Word and prayer before being devoted to you. It is out of Christ that we are filled spiritually and out of that filling that we gain the ability to lead you. Christ went to the Father before loving and serving others. Are we greater than Christ? We certainly are not. Then how much more do we need to fellowship with God?
This is one of many things I’ve been challenged with during my time at 3:14 Institute, and I hope it’s relevant for many of us who feel stuck on one side or the other.