by John McGee
As a pastor, is there anyone who knows you? I’m not talking about knowing the names of your kids, where you went to school, or your favorite sports team. Is there anyone that knows you – really knows you?
Is there anyone that knows what you’re most excited about or what makes you the most fearful or discouraged? Is there anyone that could affirm where you’re growing spiritually or where you still have gaps? Or is there anyone who could tell you how you’re a better spouse this year than last and has the insight and permission to tell you where you still need to grow?
We’ve all seen the headlines of pastors who have disqualified themselves or led in such a way that they were asked to leave. If you dig deep on these stories, you’ll find almost universally that the pastor wasn’t really known or accountable. Those who left under cover of night or were forced out may have had hundreds of people that thought they knew them, but no one who really did, and definitely no one who knew them well enough to tell them truth.
If you’re wondering “What’s the payoff for being known?” I’m glad you asked. When you’re known and authentic as a pastor, it’s good for several people:
It’s good for you. The reality is that we all have blind spots, areas in our life that we can’t see. Everyone has character and leadership issues that they aren’t aware of but others see clearly. The question is will you let people know you and love you enough to tell you what you’re really like? It might not be easy, but it’s good for you and one of the best ways to keep you from being the next negative headline.
It’s good for your congregation. Being fully known is good for those you lead. You know this and have probably encouraged those in your congregation to be in some type of small group or smaller Sunday school environment because you know how helpful it is to them. You also know that if your church will meet together in smaller groups to encourage each other and spur one another on, they will grow in their relationship with Christ.
As you instruct others to be known, the best gift you can give to those you lead is a pastor who’s living out the life to which he is calling his congregation. If everyone in your congregation were in relationships as authentic as you, how authentic would those relationships be?
It’s good for your spouse. It’s tough to be the spouse of pastor. It’s difficult to have a hectic schedule and live with someone who feels the constant leadership weight of a church. However, one of the most difficult parts of being married to a pastor is feeling like you have to carry these burdens alone, that you can’t let anyone in, and that if things are not okay, you can’t speak up.
Isolation and not feeling the freedom to speak up is not only burdensome, it’s a recipe for disaster. One of the best gifts you can give your spouse is to allow your family to be fully known by other families. This includes being authentic enough that they can rejoice with you, carry burdens, give wise counsel, and even tell you the truth when you need to hear it.
One of the best gifts I’ve given my wife is the ability to “tell on me” to our small group. If there’s an issue in my life that she has pointed out and that I am being stubborn about, or we just can’t see eye-to-eye on something, she has the freedom to let our group know. When this happens, we submit ourselves to the same care and correction we’re calling others in our church to. This keeps me from being somehow set apart in ways that are dangerous and gives my wife the gift of being fully known by others.
Some will point out that pastors need to be careful about what and with whom they share, and there is no question that you need to be wise and discerning in this area. However, to have integrity as we call others to authentic relationships, we need to have those kinds of relationships ourselves. Being fully known as we lead is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, our congregation, and our families.