It is once again a season of growth for our community and our congregation. So, I find myself out visiting a lot of individuals and families who have come to worship with us and expressed an interest in our church. With at least two first-time guests each week, this is keeping me pretty busy and pretty much out of trouble. For now.
In the course of conversation, folks will share their church background and experiences with me, including what their last pastor was like. Sometimes he or she was awesome. But more often than not, I hear a lot of disparaging comments about ministers and ministries. Some of the stories are unsettling, including tales of affairs, embezzlement, addiction and fraud. Others are filled with disappointment, discouragement and disgust.
These conversations always make me feel a little uncomfortable. I do not need to be reminded that every single pastor is a sinner in desperate need of grace. I already know that from personal experience and reminders from those who know me well. I also feel sad as I sit and listen. I’ve had great relationships with a lot of people in the church. I wish more had similar experiences.
The thing that occurred to me the other day was that on any given day, someone is probably talking about me that way. No, I haven’t done anything illegal. But I know I’ve angered, disappointed, aggravated, irritated, ignored, dismissed, insulted, and confused many who have come through our doors. They’re not telling their next pastor nice stories about me. I’m the one who let them down.
It’s good to keep this in mind. It’s humbling. It reminds me not to think too highly of myself. It also sternly reminds me that my self esteem is not built on the failings of others. My worth comes from Christ’s love for me.