Categories
Church Leadership

Pastor as Vocation

Confession: I do as much or more pastoral ministry now than I did when I worked in a church.

That is no knock on my friends in full-time vocational ministry.

It is more an affirmation for the myriad of people I know who have stepped out (or been pushed out) of their ministry job.

Leaving vocational ministry in a church for the great unknown is an identity crisis. These friends are left asking themselves, “Am I still a pastor?

I went through the same thing 2 years ago. You are OK. You are still very much a pastor, even if your paycheck doesn’t come from a church.

I’m here to tell you this simple truth: When you are a pastor you are a pastor wherever you go. It’s a calling and not a vocation.

My reality

I opened this by saying that I do as much or more pastoral ministry now than I did while I worked at churches. So what does that look like?

  • Removed of the stigma of “going to talk to my pastor” I give a great amount of pastoral counsel. Instead of people coming to my office for that we meet at coffee shops, my house, and even bars. (Gasp!)
  • I love teaching at youth group. I don’t do it often enough to get into a groove… which keeps it from feeling like a grind.
  • I totally miss filling the pulpit. At the same time I’ve learned that I probably preach too much and act too little. I have a lot more time to do ministry rather than prepare a message.
  • We’ve rediscovered authentic relationships. When you work at a church your life is full of people who claim to be your friends– but it’s a positional thing. When you are a nobody in your congregation you have to develop friendships the old fashioned way. Better yet: When the positional ones come along you don’t feel obligated.
  • I’m ministering to people in my life that are a part of my neighborhood, work life, adult small group, and students in my youth group.
  • Straight talk, no B.S. (Stealing a line from a politician) That’s kind of how it feels. Free from the weirdness of people probing and constantly feeling like I’m answering every question on behalf of the church, I can just let it fly. Want to know what I think or what the Bible says? I don’t need a “church filter” anymore.

Conversely, when I was a vocational pastor I was constantly thinking to myself, “This is it? I rarely spend time with people. All I do is run programs. I want to be with people and do ministry!

Interesting how freedom from the work of running a church has lead me to doing more pastoral ministry, right?

A global perspective for the naysayers

My fellow Americans, live in an ethnocentric culture. And American church culture is even more insular than American culture. Those of us who are in that culture have a very hard time seeing outside of it. So when I say things like “It’s a calling and not a vocation” most people in the church have no frame of reference. So while we’ve tied the concept of “I’m a pastor” with “I get paid to work at a church” we really get messed up when we no longer work for a church.

Two things to chew on…

Within Christianity: Outside of major Westernized countries almost no one who is a pastor does so vocationally. (Bi-vocational is the norm) In fact, the fastest spreading Christianity is spreading is absent of vocational staff and mostly without resources like buildings, Bibles, Bible study materials, etc. I’ve been pointing out the inverse relationship between church growth and church spending for months… but no one is lining up to cut their church budget/staff to see their church grow.

Other religions: Outside of the Christian church most religions are run by either volunteers or people who have taken vows of poverty, sustained only by the meager donations of people in their care. The Latter-day Saints are an excellent example of this. Very few people get paid within the Mormon church and yet it is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

Categories
Christian Living

Best of 2008

Note: I’m on vacation this week. My family has a rule for daddy– It’s not a vacation if daddy brings a computer. Each day this week I’m highlighting my favorite post from the adammclane.com archives. These are oldies but goodies.

“Who Are You Anyway?”

Confession #1: I’ve gotten wrapped up in being called a leader. I fall into the mistake of thinking people want to know what I think. Instead, a true leader defers to the ultimate source of wisdom, thinking, and counsel. The most appropriate thing I can do as a leader is point someone to ultimate truth found in the Bible. And I recognize that sometimes I do that and sometimes I depend on my own talent, experiences, and personal preferences. I used to be so good at saying, “This is what the Bible says: _______. And this is what I would do if I were in your position: ______________.” It seems that the more people want to recognize me as a “leader” the more I want to emphasize the latter instead of the former. The result is that I’m not always the best leader I can be. Ironic, eh?

Confession #2: I get wrapped up in being called a pastor. I’ve never been comfortable with that title. But as the year’s have gone by I’ve gotten much less diligent in blushing it off when people call me “Pastor Adam.” I don’t know if it’s that I’ve gotten comfortable with what God has done and others recognize that in me or if I just like being called a pastor? Now, it’s true. That is what/who I am. And I am not ashamed of the title. I am not ashamed of my position. And I am not ashamed of my church. It’s not about shame. I recognize that its a sign of respect for my position yet I’ve always been uncomfortable with being labeled any title. Since I entered full-time ministry I’ve always self-reflected and laughed at God’s slapping me… ME… with the title of pastor. Sure… since I was little… even before I was a Christian… I always knew I’d be in ministry. But I also know who I am. I am biblically qualified to be a pastor and yet I know who I am.

  • Above reproach? As far as I know
  • A one woman man? Heck yes!
  • Temperate? I do my very best to not lose it
  • Self-controlled? To the best of my knowledge
  • Respectable? You tell me
  • Hospitable? Check
  • Able to teach? Check
  • Not given to drunkenness? Been good on that one since early teens
  • Not violent but gentle? By the grace of God
  • Not quarrelsome? Not my thing
  • Not a lover of money? How could I be?
  • Manage his family well? Could always do better
  • Not a recent convert? Check
  • Good reputation? Let me know, OK?

Confession #3: I want to get more wrapped up in my identity as a daddy and husband than as “Pastor Adam.” Closing in on 6 years of working in churches full time and I know well why some denominations don’t let their pastors marry. The demands on the position are over-the-top hard to balance with a family. People think nothing of about calling me late at night or early in the morning to talk to me or ask me to do something. And I’m always tempted to work every day and most nights for youth group, small groups, meetings, and other stuff that lands on my schedule. I really don’t think this is biblical and I should be more disciplined about saying “Can we talk or do this tomorrow?” In the past 6 years we’ve had countless family meals interrupted, countless dates disrupted, dozens of movies put on pause, play time put on pause for other people so many times my kids hate it when I take a call, times with daddy missed for this and that. Spending quality time with other people’s kids while missing the same with my own. Honestly, I hardly ever noticed. But my wife and kids did. It’s tough being married with kids and being married with kids to a church. Only recently have I been doing some studying in the New Testament and I realized… “Wait a minute! These guys weren’t nearly as available as I am and God still thought they rocked as pastors and leaders.”

Read the rest

This is one of those blogs posts that has stuck with me. For the last two years I’ve been unwinding myself from being “Pastor Adam” to going back to being “just Adam.

I’m thankful for my new life and friendships. And I’m thankful that most of those people know me as Adam and not Pastor Adam. I still don’t know/think that I’m done with being on church staff… but I do know that if there is a next time, I won’t let people call me Pastor Adam. You can have a title with your job. But you can’t ever allow yourself to be that title more than you are yourself.

Categories
Church Leadership

Lessons from the bench

For the last two years I’ve been riding the pine at church. This time has taught me a lot about what it means to be in church leadership.

From age 16 until 31 I had always aspired to be an up front leader at church. I like being visible. I love speaking, teaching, and preaching. I truly enjoy the grind of regularly doing those things as my vocation.

Over the past two years I’ve gone from being the person everyone on our church campus knew to being a relative nobody. In athletic terms, I went from being a starter to being a player who sits the bench.

And just like in athletics, when you put a starter on the bench, the Coach always does it so the starter can learn.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from riding the bench at church:

  1. Every attendee gets something different out of a Sunday morning, you can’t control the takeaway or topic one bit. I can’t believe I ever thought I could control that.
  2. The more a church offers the less people are involved in their community. Growing a church by doing less doesn’t make logical sense, but its 100% true.
  3. Never assume people know what a term is or who an author/speaker is that you reference. People in church leadership live in a different world, with different heroes, than the rest of the congregation.
  4. Visibly valuing people is really important. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways. But it demonstrates the church leaderships character in what they put up front.
  5. People in the pews care way more about the staff and their families than I ever imagined. It’s not creepy, it’s not some American idol worship, it’s actually quite sweet.

If you’ve gone from church staff to church attendee, what are some things you’ve learned through that process that could help people in church leadership?

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Church Leadership hmm... thoughts

The Peak of the Christian Life

pinnacle-of-christian-life

Question One: What is the chief end of man?
Answer One: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism

If you were to ask most preachers the question, “Practically speaking, what does the peak of the Christian life look like?” most of them would give an answer related to the answer given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. (Even if you don’t come from that tradition.)

The theologically correct answer to that question sounds like this, “You are in God’s sweet spot when you follow God’s call wherever that is. So it’s different for each person. For me, being in God’s sweet spot has meant being a pastor at this church. But for you, the pinnacle of the Christian life could be ____. Anything less than following God’s call to that is not the pinnacle.

But if you listened to their preaching you’d hear a much different message.

A lot of preachers accidentally lift themselves and their calling to an unhealthy place. Preachers, in their messages, often imply that their calling to become a pastor is a higher calling than anyone else in the church. (Read 1 Peter 5:1-10) They use their obedience and their life as an example of getting into God’s sweet spot. Sitting there, listening to them preach and use themselves as the pinnacle of the Christian life week after week… you might start to believe that working for a church is the pinnacle of the Christian life. While I don’t think that most preachers really believe this to be true, it is easy to use themselves as an example to illustrate their sermon. And more often than not they use themselves as a heroic protagonist in the story… thus the implied status that they are the example of the peak Christian.

The truth is there are a lot of people attending and even working at churches that believe that lie. (Heresy) Even if the preacher never directly says that that working at a church is close to the peak of the Christian life and being the lead preacher is the peak, most people believe that a pastor must be somehow superior unless they are taught otherwise.

Next, you see this pattern emerge all the time! A person feels stuck in their spiritual journey. They desire something “greater” and decide that they need to take a leap of faith. Out of an earnest desire to experience the peak of the Christian life, they start pursuing something else. They follow the leadership example they hear year-after-year and walk away from where God has them in order to chase “the pinnacle of the Christian life” by serving at a church. And those people further perpetrate the lie by testifying, “I used to be an accountant, but God called me to become the Pastor of Finance at this church. Even though I am making much less money I am happy to be in the Lord’s service.

Financial sacrifice does not equal a ministry calling. But listening to the testimony of a lot of preachers, you’d think it was. As if God was going to cosmically bless a ministry simply because you gave up earning potential?

The irony continues once you make that leap. Once you get on staff at a church you learn a dirty little secret. The priesthood of all believers is true.

You want to reach a majority of the community you live in for Jesus Christ? (I believe most churches do.) It simply will not happen through the church staff or its programs. [Even the biggest megachurches only have a tiny reach into their community.] It will only happen when the people in the congregation take hold of what the Bible teaches and takes the Gospel to the places they have access and influence. (Places 99% of pastors have no access or influence.) This mega-change in a community is just as likely to come from a house church of 12 as a megachurch of 20,000. Just like in Acts, God is not interested in the size of the Temple. He is interested in bringing the message of the Jesus to the people where they are. Did Peter, Paul, John, or Timothy grow endearing church organizations? I think not. It was never the goal of the early church to create a massive, efficient organization. The early church built no cathedrals, had no mega-meetings, and lifted nothing but spreading the message as far, deep, and wide as they could in their lifetime. This is a far cry from the little-church-kingdom building we see among clergy today.

I belive most Christians aspire the peak of the Christian life. It’s a good thing to aspire to! Let me encourage you with this. To reach the peak of the Christian life probably won’t mean an Abrahamic move. You likely won’t be called by God to sell your land and move your sheep, goats, and wife to a foreign place. Nor is it likely that God wants you to stop being an accountant, teacher, nurse, or business person to work in a church. The church needs more Christ-followers in the workplace and fewer business people dressed up as pastors.

More than likely you can reach the peak of the Christian life right where you are, in the career you are in, with the friendships you have.

“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25

If you are seeking something more significant in 2010 I want to challenge you to first do your very best right where you are. Don’t forget to consider that God may have you in the right spot– it may just be you that needs to change.

Look at your life through the eyes of Jonah and ask yourself… what am I running from? That’s most likely what God is calling you to.

Categories
Church Leadership

Podcasts for Preachers

podcasts-for-preachers

Since April, I’ve been a regular commuter using San Diego’s excellent public transit system. Essentially, it takes me an hour to get to work and I use this as me time. While walking, riding my bike, standing on the platform, or riding the trolley I am typically listening to music or podcasts.

My weekly repertoire includes exactly zero “Christian” podcasts. (Unless you count my own!) What I’ve found that I enjoy listening to most are shows that tell stories really, really well. The other day it hit me that some of the shows I listen to every week would actually be excellent to listen to for those who craft messages each week.

So, here’s my list of shows I’d recommend preachers listen to in order to sharpen their delivery: (add you own in the comments)

1. This American Life. I’ve joked around in saying that Ira Glass is the best preacher in America. Clearly, Ira is not a pastor– he’s Jewish. But TAL regularly tells the best stories out there. The pace, the clarity, the way that the commentators often get out of the way and allow the subject to speak. If you are serious about crafting an oral story… you need to list to this show.

2. 60 Minutes: Listen to the audio version of this show. (Available on iTunes) This show is always good on TV, but there is something about listening to it as audio only that makes it better. I love the manner in which they track a story. Almost every story uses the same pattern but it never gets old. Also, I love how they tease the stories up front to keep the listening intruiged. The worst part of the show is Andy Rooney. But just hear him as the old man who grabs your hand every week and annoys you.

3. The Moth: I love this show for two reasons. First, it’s first person stories. Second, it’s a single story per episode. These are stories told live on their mainstage in LA or New York. If you like to integrate testimony into your messages, this will help you.

4. This I Believe: More stories told in the first person. This concept has been around for decades and has captured the core beliefs about famous people, everyday people, and people in-between for that entire time. Essentially, people write an essay about something they believe to be true and then perform it in their own voice.

5. TEDtalks: If you had 18 minutes to present your life’s work, what would you say? This is the premise of TED.  This is like the Willow Creek Leadership Conference for everyone else. Each week you’ll see a well-known person make the presentation of their life.

What would you add to this list?

I think evangelicals are just coming back to the concept of story. For whatever reason we’ve gotten into a habit that preaching ought to be a lecture instead of a story. But with our cultures fascination of story, many leaders are seeing that in order to preach into people’s lives they have to be a better storyteller.

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Church Leadership

What to Say When the Youth Pastor Leaves

the-truth

It’s June. Professional youth ministries most dangerous month. I’ve served in three churches and all the hiring, firing, quitting, and retiring with the youth ministry seems to happen in June. It’s a wicked combination of the end of the school year and for a lot of churches, the end of the budget year. I could offer some theories as to why so many churches hire and fire in June… but that’s not the point of this post.

“What do we say when the youth pastor leaves?”

Church leaders: Tell the truth. If the person quit, just say they quit. You don’t have to spin it. Just tell it like it is.

But if you are firing them, I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to who were fired and then asked to enter into an agreement (never in writing) that for a sum of money they will say that they have decided to quit. Hundreds. If you are man or woman enough to fire a person than be man or woman enough to tell the congregation. You don’t pay severence to someone you are firing to cover up the fact that you are firing them. You pay them severance because they are self-employed and ineligible to claim unemployment benefits. It only makes matters worse when you fire a person and then put on a charade that you are sad to see them go. You throw a party, you say all sorts of glowing things in public when you know full well that you sat in a board room and decided this person needed to be fired. If you lie, your lie will be found out. Your sin will be exposed and the embarrassment you were trying to avoid will come back to haunt you for years. If you made a brave decision as the leadership of the church then it is a sign of your strength as leaders. When you try to wuss out, it shows what kind of leaders you are.

The truth always wins.

Church staff: Tell the truth. If the leaders of your church dismissed a person don’t ever lie about it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “The leaders decided to go another direction.” You don’t have to go into the specifics of why the person was fired. But don’t participate in the leaders lie if they are trying to spin the truth. That makes you party to the lie! Your corroborating the leaders story and remember, the truth will come out eventually. And remember, this is exactly how you will be treated if they let you go later.

The truth always wins.

Youth Pastor: Tell the truth. I have been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to have that meeting where the leaders tell you that you aren’t the person they want pastoring their kids anymore. I have felt my world crash around me in that moment. I’ve looked across that table when they told me what to say. They are going to wave a big check in front of your eyes and you are going to think, “How else can I feed my family? How will I pay my rent? How will I have enough money to get the heck out of here?Just don’t get bought by Satan. Think about it… would Jesus ask you to lie in His name? Not telling the truth is telling a lie! Church leaders who ask you to lie for a little bit of money are doing the work of your sworn enemy. Walk out of that meeting with integrity. Do not cave to their pressure and promise of financial security to further their lie. They will end up offering you the same severance check anyway… because it is the right thing to do and the congregation will demand it. Moreover, your telling a lie to the congregation will only make matters worse. They are trying to get you to take the fall because they know you are leaving the church.

Candidates for youth ministry positions: Find the truth. Your well-being and the well-being of your family and future ministry depend on you discovering the truth! If you are interviewing at a church you need to talk to the former youth worker. During the interview process ask the search committee about the previous person. Then ask for their email address or phone number so you may contact them. This is 2009, you can find them in 10 minutes on the internet. Be a detective and get to the truth as to why that person left. If there is a lie… don’t take the job. This is precisely how you will be treated. If the previous youth worker was fired and the pastor and the elders participated in that lie, confront them! No matter how good they make that job sound, that entire relationship will be based on lies unless they come clean. Confront their sin and then don’t take the job. Show them what a leader looks like.

Some may read this and think, “Boy, Adam McLane has a chip on his shoulder about this. You would be correct. I am sick of seeing my friends in ministry asked to lie for a few thousand bucks. I am sick of churches hiding the fact that have fired a person. I am tired of the Bride of Christ doing things that are worse– even illegal— than what happens in the business world. I know that a healthy ministry can only be built on the truth. And it is time to speak up and get some truth out there.

Categories
Church Leadership

Getting Started in Investing, part one

money_stuff

I’d like to let my youth ministry friends in on a dirty little secret. While pay has dramatically improved for youth workers in the past two decades the most consistent reason people leave youth ministry once they reach their mid 30s and above is mounting financial pressure. In other words, there are some glass ceilings on the personal income side of things that will eventually cause you to look for higher paying work in the church or not in the church if you don’t plan ahead. Plan ahead and you relieve the pressure bit by bit. Don’t plan ahead and that pressure builds and leads to a catastrophic failure.

Here is a short list of those pressures:

– Housing expenses skyrocket: That rental gets old, doesn’t it? Buying a house can be great when you land in the same place for 10 years or more. But buy and sell a house a couple of times when you change jobs and you’ll quickly see that’s a bad strategy for financial security.

– Retirement savings becomes important: Most churches either don’t offer a retirement plan for their associate staff or it is extremely inadequate. Even if you are in a denomination that pays into a pension fund… getting ordained in order to get vested in that fund can be more costly than the pension you’d earn in the long run! (And with many mainline denominations tanking financially, you really need to wonder if that money will be there in 30 years.)

– Kids get more expensive as time goes on: When you first have babies you think diapers and formula is a blow to your budget. Just wait! Eventually those kids will need braces, outgrow clothes every two weeks, want to go to camp, need a car of their own, and gulp… want to go to college.

– Medical insurance won’t cover it all: Again, when you are young and/or first married this doesn’t seem important. But with premiums soaring churches are cutting back on benefits. So as you age into needing good insurance chances are your church is increasing co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.

– Pressure to keep up with your peers: There’s only so long you want to live like college kids. Eventually, you are going to want grown up furniture, go on nice vacations, and have a little extra something here and there. I don’t mean that you’ll get more materialistic as time goes on… but you just get sick of scrounging.

If you do nothing, eventually these pressures will leave you with no other option but to leave the ministry. You can do everything right in the 9-5 activity of working at your church. But if you don’t have a plan to address these mounting pressures, it will sneak up on you and the pressure will grow so intense that you may have no other option but to leave the job you love for a job that pays better. If the choice is lose your family or lose your ministry you will chose lose your ministry 100% of the time, right?

My goal for this series is to encourage those in youth ministry– you don’t have to bail out!

If you want to join along I will help you with a few basic strategies that will lessen these pressures. My hope is to help you stay in youth ministry longer. While things like soul care and youth ministry strategy are super important for staying in it for the long haul… I’m going to help you deal with the dirty little money secret that could eventually knock you out of ministry.

Part two: Dealing with debt and savings

Part three: COLA-  and I don’t mean Pepsi or Coke.

Part four: 401ks, IRAs, 529 and other numbers that are important

Part five: Outside income opportunities

Categories
Church Leadership hmm... thoughts Web/Tech

A Dare for Pastors

lunch

I am daring you and your staff to take this challenge. I promise you it isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. In fact, I think it may just fundamentally change the way you interact with the people in your ministry.

Here’s the dare.

Lock every staff person out of your church building for a work week. From the senior pastor to the part time guy to the janitor. Instead of going to the office and doing your normal thing for 7 work days I am daring you to put all that “work” aside for a work week and a couple of days to spend that time getting to know 10 people who go to your church in their native environment.

Here’s how it works.

1. Instead of getting up and going to the office, split your day in half. In the morning you’ll spend a half-day with a first shift office worker and in either the afternoon or evening you’ll pull a half shift with a blue collar worker. Trust me, you’ll find a bunch of volunteers. It’ll be fun for everyone. Repeat this for 5 days so each staff member gets to see 10 of your church attendees in their work environment for half a day.

2. Run your ministries that week in the most stripped down way possible. Just wing it for a week… you’re professionals, you know you can wing a week. Tell the pastor to talk about his week or something. The preacher absolutely doesn’t get special treatment in this. Heck, download a free sermon from open.lifechurch.tv and tell the band to play last weeks songs on Sunday. This dare will make your ministry better, I promise.

3. When that week is over schedule an off-site meeting with your entire church staff for Monday and Tuesday. It’ll take 2 days to debrief this.

3a. Spend the entire first day (with a lunch paid for by the boss) sharing your experiences. What did you do? What was unexpected? What went crazy? Who works their butt off? Who has the easy job? Why do people do what they do? Who is the most servant hearted? You get the idea.

3b. Spend the entire second day (bring a bag lunch) determining how getting to know people in their native environments changes how you minister to people, families, children, and students.

4. Send thank you notes to every single person you visited. Let them know how much you appreciated the time with them, how much you learned, etc.

Money back guarantee! Since this project isn’t costing you anything I promise to refund you fully if you take this dare and learn absolutely nothing.

Go ahead, spend time with your people at work. I double dog dare you!

For those taking the dare. Let me know if your staff is doing it. I’d love to pray for you all. Also, let me know how it went. Leave a comment here or drop me an email, mclanea@gmail.com.

Categories
Church Leadership illustrations

3 Things I Don’t Want to Hear From a Pastor…. EVER!

Now that I’m a regular Joe sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, I’ve gotten a chance to discover some things that are awkward for the audience to hear. In short, I don’t think pastors should say these things… EVER!

  1. Talk about your sex life. How gross is it to hear any 40 something year old man talk about sex with his spouse? It’s especially gross for a pastor to talk about having sex with his wife while she sits and blushes in the audience. And Ed Young, yeah… we know sex is beautiful… but no one wants to know how many times you had sex in a week. I think I just puked in my bulletin.
  2. Talk about your past careers. I know working at a church can pretty redundant and boring. And sometimes you feel like your role is insignificant next to the corporate types who write the big checks. Get over it, you aren’t a _____ anymore. You’re a pastor, your congregation loves you, and we know you could make more money elsewhere. Please don’t remind us of that every week, we don’t care.
  3. Using your kids sin as an illustration. Holy smokes this has got to damage kids self-image. Can you imagine the horror of not only being busted doing something bad but then having your mom or dad tell hundreds… or even thousands of people about it? No wonder so many pastor kids grow up hating Jesus. Cough. ***golden rule*** Cough. Cough.

Thankfully, Stephen rarely does any of these.

So what do I suggest? I know that these 3 things tend to come up because you need a good illustration. And typically, when I’ve let these types of things sneak in it is because I don’t have time to really research a great illustration. But you know they are “winners” and will go over with the core audience well because it’s personal and the people love you. But, be honest, these three things tend to come out most often when you have little time to prepare.

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Church Leadership hmm... thoughts

Are you fake around your pastor?

Check out this quote.

Dear God,

I was a pastor for 23 years. It killed me. I am not sure I was every called to it. As you know, the overwhelming numbness finally caved in all around me. Now, I am on the outside of the church looking in and I don’t like what I see. Why do we have to be fake to be a Christian or part of a church? How did we buy the lie that showing up occasionally was the same as a relationship with you? Now that I am not a pastor, people are honest with me. I had no idea how hard life was for so many people because when they came on my “turf” they pretended just as much as I did. I feel hope inside God. Now, without the job I feel like you let me go through everything to understand pain. I want to do what I can, but I feel like a failure every day. Can you still use me? link

While I can’t identify with the feeling far from God or having felt fake with God while serving at a church, I can definitely tell that people are more honest with me about their lives now that I don’t work at a church full time. Why is that? Was there something in my title that made me someone you couldn’t speak openly with? Did you feel like I couldn’t help? Did you feel like I didn’t want to know? Were you trying to protect me? Do you think I’d judge you? Not love you? Tell others you were human? Were you looking for an escape when you were around me? Did I project myself as someone who couldn’t understand? Was I above your struggles? Was I intimidating? Was I uncaring? Was I too transparent? Not transparent enough?

The thing is, I’m not done being a church leader… at least I hope not. I just want to know. 

HT to Andy