Pastor, Why Is It Good for You and Your People to Understand That You Are a Bad Pastor?


Thirteen years have passed since our 35-1 National Championship run. Much has taken place since those glory days. For starters, I married a hall of famer, Natasha Neal, and together we have three beautiful boys: Marcus, Titus, and Malachi.

Then, with great impact to my athletic figure, I exchanged my basketball shorts for a bible and a pulpit. Very few people know me now as an athlete anymore and most, if not all, value me pastorally navigating a difficult situation more than they do me navigating a particular defense. Still, pastoring and being an athlete have a lot in common, and in at least one way you might not have considered. Both being a pastor and an athlete come with public praise and scrutiny. Both require great discipline and perseverance. And, in both disciplines, those in attendance tend to overlook the amount of work invested in what’s being executed. Also, a successful pastor and a successful athlete should have in common a real understanding of one’s weaknesses. It’s this last point that I wish to consider just for a moment in light of pastoral ministry.

In pastoring, and I would say the Christian life in general, there’s always the temptation to project an image of oneself that’s more adept and polished than what is actualized. Yet, faulty presentations of self are never lasting. When the athlete pretends to be better than he or she is, exposure is ushered in on the tides of failure and defeat. For the pastor, however, the greatest danger is not the loss of a game but rather every step toward achieving a polished look is a step toward deconstructing the portrait of grace in one’s life. Think about it for a moment: If the leaders we are to emulate in the church are perfect, in what sense are they, the leaders, able to point to the truth found in Scripture that Christ Jesus came to save sinners? It’s in light of this truth that I gladly make this confession—I’m a bad pastor! Here are three reasons why:

First, I’m sinful. I’m not the Good Shepherd in John 10. Jesus is. I sin daily and have to repent of things like anger, pride, and anxiety to my friends, family, and you the congregation. This is not a ploy or cute literary device. It’s the reality of the situation. When the Lord pronounces judgment on the counterfeit shepherds in Ezekiel 34, the operative question becomes, “Who, then, will shepherd God’s people?” The Lord answers that question with over fifteen references to Himself in one chapter as the one who will shepherd His people. Is that clear enough?! Of course, we know that Jesus is the means by which God indeed becomes the great Shepherd of His people. Why does that matter? It matters because Jesus is the great and perfect Shepherd of His people so I don’t have to be. I don’t have to be perfect and coming to grips with that is key. For example, the athlete who never acknowledges weaknesses will make light of the strength of his teammates and, therefore, fail to understand his need to lean on them when it’s needed most. So, too, the pastor must learn to acknowledge his weaknesses and utter dependency on Christ and His Word. That’s done by exposing weaknesses and painting big and beautiful portraits of the truth of the Gospel: God saves and uses sinners for His glory!


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SOURCE: The Front Porch

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