There was a time when I was regularly called a “pastor” but I never felt comfortable with the designation. The word literally means “shepherd” but it occupies a different space in every mind.
Many put pastors on moral pedestals, as if a clergy person is spiritually more significant, morally more disciplined, or more/other/better in other ways. We’ve always done this. People have always wanted someone else to say the prayers, talk to God, do the habits, exercise the discipline, show restraint, make ancient texts more interesting, and tell us we’re ok. If the leader is good and “holy” and I’m under the leader, then I get some kind of religious covering or blessing or “pass” by association.
But it’s not real. It’s flawed human thinking that shirks personal responsibility, putting the burden on someone else to perform (so we’re not as accountable).
We have–for generations–wanted someone else to represent God and our good standing with God. We love them for it, but eventually we resent them for one reason or another. They are human, after all.
Are we ready to admit it doesn’t work? It’s never worked. Jesus said it didn’t work. Moses said it didn’t work.
Are we ready to embrace the personal yet common messy struggle of grace and growth…failing our way forward and finding a loving God waiting within us…every step…every moment?
No more delegating our spirituality. No more pedestals and platforms. No more heroes and villains. Who are we kidding? We’re all the same. With the same access to the invisible Spirit who sustains, guides and leads us all.
What, then, is a spiritual leader to do? Simple: Remind us of the above truths. Inspire us to keep going within and growing in our relationship with God. Encourage us to never give up in the messy journey of faith and failures. And, of course, in some circumstances, to be our friend.
Here’s to the journey.