Being involved in ministry for almost 15 years has led me to countless conversations with people about their pastor. Some were loved, some were loathed.
Here are a few thoughts that may help shed some light. This is not at all exhaustive and isn’t an excuse for sinful actions.
1. People, depending on their personality or season of life, want either a visionary movement creator or a chaplain.
Chaplains are great listeners and are quick to quietly sit by your bedside at the hospital. Their schedules are almost always determined by the needs of others. Most chaplains are highly faithful people with quiet, gentle hearts. Visionary movement creators are different. They are driven. They lead strong and instead of being controlled by external forces, they shape the external. These people are intense and have a tendency to control conversations rather than be good listeners. You need to know, God uses both!
If you are in a season where you need a chaplain, that’s great, but don’t badmouth the vision castor. Or if you want to line up behind a strong leader, don’t bash those who God crafted to be wonderful, gentle chaplains.
(By “chaplain” I do not necessarily mean the military job of Chaplain.)
2. So what about true imperfections in a leader?
People also want pastors who are like Christ, which they should. I get this.
The pastor should reflect Christ, but he cannot replace him.
If Jesus is your lead pastor you will have a level of grace for your human pastor you didn’t before. Most of the greats before us, the Apostle Paul, King David, intense Peter, even the modern guys like Luther, Wesley, and Calvin, were not perfect people at all. The reality is if any of your pastors treated their families like Wesley did, you probably would push him out. Or if you had a pastor that treated congregants who disagreed with him like Calvin you would be calling the police. Or a pastor who used constant derogatory language like Luther, you would storm out of church furious.
If the greats in the Bible were flawed and made mistakes, you better believe your pastor will be imperfect too. I am not letting them off the hook, or saying there should be no accountability. I am, however, saying you need to put your hope in Jesus and love your pastor like a brother in Christ.