Since I have been a pastor I have heard so many discouraging stories from people in my congregation recounting issues with former pastors concerning moral failure, legalism, abuse of power and so on. I have to admit that after hearing so many stories like these that I have at times begun to feel very scared that I might somehow become another one of these pastors that will bring further hurt into the lives of these believers. Not too long ago I was discussing this fear with a friend of mine who is a counselor. He asked me to reflect on the some of the bad experiences I’ve had with folks in ministry, whether pastors, or other ministers that I had looked up to who had fallen from grace. The question he then posed was what difference it had ultimately made in my faith. The truth is that as long as I have kept my heart open to God’s work, He has actually used even bad pastors to work his purposes into my life. Looking back I believe that had I not had some of those very difficult experiences with folks in ministry early on in my faith I would not be where I am today.
["corrupt pastors" image taken from the atheist blog "Deep Thoughts"]
In the end I take comfort in the words of Jesus, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). I am sure as my journey continues, now as a pastor myself, that I will be considered by some to be a bad pastor (that is likely the case even now). While I hope I will never fall into sexual immorality, or become an abusive leader, I know that at my best I will still end up hurting some people along the way. While I will endeavor to be a good pastor my hope is that I can lead people to know the one true Pastor and Shepherd and that even when I do stupid or hurtful things that folks will listen to and follow Him. I trust this will be the case because it has been true in my own journey. Though human pastors have failed me, though people in ministry have let me down, one Shepherd has been leading me, guiding me, and protecting me through it all.