The Naked Pastor
I recently had a conversation with a church leader, who in my estimation, is one of the best in the world. He said this to me, “Penny, the larger your church grows, the more friends you will have but there will be fewer of them you can trust.”
Wow, that was a pretty huge statement for me to chew on. My husband and I are people-lovers and as such, it took us a few minutes to fully digest what this leader was saying. What was the full scope of his words? How could I apply this to my experiences already? The questions flooded my mind.
Later that week my husband made a very poignant statement to me. He said, “Penny, you know the kinds of people I want to be around? They are people who I can just be real with. There are no games involved. They aren’t trying to size me up. They aren’t trying to find my weaknesses. There is no hidden motive waiting to be uncovered. They aren’t trying to get something from me. They are people you can just be yourself around and it’s safe to just be human.”
As we talked, I realized that is what we all want. We want to be understood. The difference is that when you are a pastor, there are expectations placed on you at times that are just unlivable. Yes, even by very well-meaning people. People think you never fuss at your spouse, that you never have a bad day, that your face has a perpetual smile plastered on it, or that every minute your speech is filled with words of faith. Its simply not real life. Nobody I know is like that, nope not even pastors.
My husband summed it up by using this scripture, Genesis 2:25, “….they were naked, but they felt no shame.” He said, “I want to be able to be naked, bare my heart, bare my soul, and not feel any shame or concern about doing that with my true friends. I want to be able to be real and have it handled appropriately.”
I get it and I do second that motion. As church leaders it often is difficult in friendships to navigate the hats we wear. Navigating which hat is on can become very confusing for people who don’t have the experience and maturity necessary to successfully tread those waters. Are you my friend? My pastor? My boss? My leader?
So, what we are learning is this. In ministry we will have lots of people whom we love and who love us back, but that doesn’t mean they are the ones we show our nakedness to. That deep, deep trust is reserved for a few proven souls. If we aren’t careful, we will allow well-meaning people who simply aren’t able to handle our uncovered state into our lives. Without even meaning to, we will have opened ourselves up to hurt and misunderstanding unnecessarily.
Do you have a friend you can be totally naked with? No shame involved?