I spent the biggest part of my day today with about a dozen central Illinois pastors. We spent our time talking about ministry in both its ups and downs, about hope, disillusionment, pain, and God's faithfulness. I heard more openness from these men in a few hours than I bet most of them have had with anyone other than maybe their wives in probably a long while. I sensed among them a deep desire to be found faithful by Christ mixed with a deep longing for eternal impact. To a man, they are hoping and praying that the task to which they have given their lives and for which they have sacrificed (in some cases, greatly), will be found in the End, to have been worthy of the Savior. Yet in the interim it seems that many of us worry that somehow, there has to be more to the ministerial life than what we are experiencing.
I'll bet that virtually no one in any of these congregations knows these things about their pastors. Yet I wonder if it would be good if they did? Would that kind of vulnerability help those in their flocks that feel the same way? Or would it be a wedge used against the man and a reason to dislike him or even release him from service? I've been around enough churches and heard enough stories from pastors over the years to know that it depends on the church, and that there would probably be some of both even in the healthiest places. Which is why these men talk to each other, where they feel safe, and not to many others, if at all.
Yet I can't help thinking that this is not the way the Church is supposed to be. It is not the healthy, after all, who need a doctor, but the sick. So why are people at the hospital so often offended when they find the ill and the dying in their midst?