“It is not our weakness that hinders the compassion and the goodness of God. It is often what others count our strengths that now become criteria by which we distance ourselves from others not so gifted…The greatest protection against this terrible pride – masked as religious seriousness or apostolic commitment, as purity about the things of God…is an abiding sense of our own weakness.” Michael Dwinell, Fire Bearers
“Our church has an awesome worship band!” (Translation: “Our worship experience is more powerful and valuable than yours.”)
“Have you heard our pastor preach? He’s phenomenal!” (Translation: “Your church could grow like ours if you had a preacher as good as ours.”)
“My church is so generous! We gave such-and-such amount to this-or-that relief fund.” (Translation: “Sound the trumpets!”)
“Our small-group model works really well; it’s so easy to get to know everyone at the church.” (Translation: “You should really try learning from us.”)
Pardon my language, but who really gives a shit?
Churches are human organizations, and they function exactly like all other human organizations. The degree to which you measure ‘excellence’ in a given area is the degree to which you focus your energies and compare yourself to others based on that same measure. It is inevitable, and I have seen it in the church as often as I’ve seen it in the business world: Large-church leaders mingle together and are treated as rock stars at pastoral gatherings; pride enters the voice of those who attend churches who are ‘doing it right’; Facebook posts abound about charity drives, Christian leadership tips, obnoxious cliché sayings…all sounding gongs and clanging cymbals.
I am tired of being lectured by people who wear masks of perfection and excellence behind the pulpit. I know some people will disagree with this. They want church leaders to maintain a certain level of ‘holiness’. They want church leaders who will not ‘air their dirty laundry’. Very well; I cannot and should not attempt to tell such people what kind of church they should want. But I can tell you what I want: I want honest, vulnerable pastors.
I want to hear burned-out pastors. I want to listen to heartbroken pastors. I want to be led by recovering drug addicts, sex addicts, and alcoholics. I want to be led by men and women who are so convicted of their own powerlessness and sin that they stop telling us what we ought to do, and start telling us what they wish they had done instead. I want leaders with credibility, not a lecture about my sin from a guy who’s never been in a strip club or had a few too many beers. I want real, vulnerable, weak, powerless men who are so reliant on God that they can barely tie their shoes without him.
The church does not need another hot-shot pastor from the right school, with the right pedigree, the right awards, the right family, and the right preaching style. The church needs men and women with an overwhelming sense of their own weakness.