Yesterday, after preaching, someone mentioned to me how the sermon was something she really needed to hear. I replied by stating that it was something that I needed to hear as well. The idea that the pastor needs to hear the very sermon that he or she is preaching may seem suspect to many. After all, how can we offer an answer if we are standing right next to those who are asking the questions? How can we be the voice of authority if we are also struggling with the people?
Such questions assume much. When I preach, I may “know” the answer (path, possibility, etc) intellectually, and yet at the same time I may not have embraced the answer (path, possibility, etc.) in my heart. I know what I am to do, but have not yet the strength or faith to do it. Lord, help my unbelief!
Perhaps most of the work we do is autobiographical. My dissertation is focused on Baptist ordination. Isn’t it interesting that I am an ordained Baptist pastor? My sermons often look at the presence of Christ in our lives. Isn’t it interesting that I often look for Christ’s presence in my life? My work is autobiographical (to a degree).
So I am assuming that my experiences, questions, and struggles are not private or unique. I am assuming that other pastors wonder what it means to be ordained. I am assuming that other people struggle spirituality as I do. I am also taking a risk, and making myself vulnerable to a degree. I am not sharing all of my issues directly, but I am inviting people into my thoughts and feelings.
I think we should all be honest about our work, however that manifests. Either we are expressing something of ourselves, or we are disingenuous with our lives. In the end, the last thing I want to be is someone who is aloof, with a superior attitude, and pretends to know all the answers. No one likes a know-it-all.