A man recently wrote a book called Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor. Wow! The title alone floored me. Who admits that?
Here are some of the powerful words he wrote:
When I’m better…then I’ll let God use me. Friend, you’ll never be completely whole until you step out in faith and allow God to use your failures and pain to help others. Come down off the shelf. It’s your imperfection that gives you the stage for ministry to others.
People will be encouraged by your journey as a fellow struggler. Healing comes when we display our scars to others so that they can be encouraged and healed. We don’t minister out of our perfection but rather out of our confession of imperfection. God wants to use your scars as a magnet that draws other hurting people to Jesus Christ so they too can be healed. Don’t allow your pain to be wasted.
I was hit by a question. Have I forgotten that it’s not about me and how strong I am?
We spend years of our lives perfecting our skills, defining our ‘niche’: what we do well that helps others. This is good stewardship… like if you are gifted at music, then you should learn the piano!
But sometimes our quest for excellence exceeds godly stewardship. It becomes a drive for perfection. This means we’ve forgotten.
We’ve forgotten life means showing our weaknesses and vulnerabilities to help others in theirs. Service or ‘ministry’ just means you lower yourself to help others. Until you lower yourself, you won’t reach people. You may inspire and teach them or even motivate them to “do something with their lives”, but you won’t really touch them. The change in them will be shallow, short-lived, or both.
True influence means unveiling yourself in order to show people the way.
Is this easy? Heck no! But it’s necessary if you want to be a leader.
Many people mistakenly believe leaders shouldn’t show weakness. People will lose respect for me. They won’t follow someone who doesn’t have it together. Granted, if you’re really struggling with a huge issue, you may not be in a position to be a leader yet. You may need to deal with ‘it’ first. But every true leader is weak.
You’ve heard it said Never trust a leader without a limp, so how do leaders translate this into everyday life?
Instead of communicating with people a false sense of having all the answers, leaders can be transparent enough to admit their weaknesses. Honestly confessing mess-ups will encourage their followers to step up, admit their own struggles, and invite others to help them change. James 5 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
I have a confession of my own: it’s taken me 26 years to realize life is hard. I grew up in a bit of a bubble, which has made adjusting to reality a wee bit more challenging. Now that life’s staring me squarely in the face, I’m realizing I don’t know how to share with others that I’m struggling… although I want to!
But what if this ‘insignificant’ pastor is right – what if our transparency is what opens the door for us to connect with others, to help them and be helped? What if I just need to suck it up and admit things have been hard lately?
A guy I dated years ago told me something curious about this. A well-respected leader in several circles, he said God had been teaching him that Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. When he opened up to those under his leadership instead of giving into the perfectionism charade, people responded much more readily to him.
A couple years later, my former pastor Greg Dumas (in Tampa, Fla.) echoed this same sentiment! God told him that if he opened his heart to the congregation, people would be much more responsive than when he just preached at them. So he tried it. His church has exploded in growth the last four years, becoming the 32nd fastest-growing one in the country, largely because he’s open, raw and real (and obedient!). And people are drawn in droves.
I think I’ve bought this lie, awaiting the day I have it together before stepping out and reaching people where they’re at.
I wonder how many people are suffering because I’ve been unable to admit to myself and them that I’m a failure, too, and that sometimes I hurt?
I wonder. I want to change this, but first I must be honest.
I’m reminded of my friend Moses’ words to me several years ago, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given: Releasing your resentment and revealing your feelings is the first step to healing. Amen.