I’ve discussed the idea of how the church typically responds to fallen leaders. It’s a tough thing to wrestle with. There are some behaviors which should “disqualify” you from leadership. On the other hand, you still have gifts and you are obligated to use them. Being close friends with pastors, and now having fallen into a church leadership role despite years carefully avoiding such a role, I can say that it’s amazing more pastors don’t “fall.” Or at least burn out at a rate similar to public school teachers.

They are set up to fall and we create the bullseye. For a start, protestations aside, there is a trap for them to be perfect. We tend to put them on a pedestal or in front of us rather than beside us or allowed a measure of grace. I understand that part of that is the role they play of speaking into our lives. Any time we grant someone the right to speak into our lives with authority, there is an assumed elevation to them. Ironically, as intuitively natural as that may feel, we don’t do that with our friends. My friends have earned the right to course correct me if they see me going astray, but it doesn’t mean that they have to pull some sort of rank in order to do it.

Speaking of friends, I’ve been stunned by how lonely the role of pastor can be. They don’t seem to be allowed to have close friends. It’s like they can’t effectively pastor people who know them too well. The corollary to that is that folks don’t really allow their pastors to be real around them. Even in my role as “facilitator”, I’ve had to distance myself in some of my relationships because some folks, usually the more “churched” people, have very restrictive ideas about how church leaders should be and act (the two big complaints leveled against me: 1) I’m too fun. Apparently there’s something inherently not to be trusted in someone who’s having too good a time within his religion. And 2) I’m not afraid to have a drink. Look, you deal with church people all day and see if you don’t want to toss a couple down).

So now we’ve created a situation of isolation among the leadership so they are operating on a high wire without a net. Then we chew them up when they fall. Let’s take a “lesser scandal”, for instance, say a pastor becomes addicted to painkillers after an accident. We are quick to shoot our wounded and turn our backs on our fallen brethren. As if any sin automatically disqualifies them from leadership and exercising their gifts. You would think that if the church’s greater mission is to be a part of a ministry of reconciliation, there would be more of an emphasis on being about forgiveness and restoration.

Don’t mind me. Just venting, I guess. Had to hear from too many “I’m not gossiping, I just had a few observations” folks today. And now need a drink.