2016-02-24 Pretending to be a Pastor
By Pastor Jason Chao
When I first became a pastor I was 22 years old. At lunch with the other pastors I was wide-eyed and always felt like “wow, these guys are so wise”. Almost 7 years later a strange thing has happened. Many of those pastors have gone. While new ones have come that are older than me in age, it is weird when they ask me the questions that I used to ask to the other pastors.
And so I find myself in a new struggle. When I was a younger pastor I always felt this burden of having to prove myself. I really felt 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Like described in the Gospel Centered Life I really struggled with performing. Like I had to be a really GREAT pastor to warrant how much faith ANC had put in me.
But now I fear I face a different struggle. I think now as the “older” pastor in the room I feel the other struggle described in Gospel Centered Life. I feel the struggle of pretending. I feel like sometimes I have to pretend to be the pastor that’s always calm and cheerful. I feel like I’m supposed to be that super spiritual pastor that we post youtube videos of or that I listen to on podcasts.
So funny thing yesterday as my professor Sam Cerny was teaching, he mentioned that having seen and talked with so many big name pastors that there is no such thing as the super-spiritual pastor. We may see them on stage, but they are real people in real life with real struggles (just like the people in the Bible). We idolize those people when think of them as something other than real people.
I am confronted by this that every believer is confronted by. Stuck between who I am and who I know God is shaping me to be. Yet that’s the key isn’t it? Who GOD is shaping. The position of pastor seems to be bring even more treacherously the temptation to think that I am the one who must shape myself. Like God is not the potter, He is merely the model upon which my amateur inept fingers are failing to replicate.
I repent of this. I think I do at least. So let me take a step in ceasing the pretending and tell you some of my failures as a pastor.
I am terrible at remembering names and faces. I see a lot of pastors that instantly talk with newcomers. I’ll be honest, there are people who are in our ministry that I know they have come for years and yet I don’t know their names by heart. I know they don’t come out to much but still a ministry of only 200 I feel like I should be able to remember everyone. But I don’t and I’m sorry for that to every one of you that I forget.
I don’t follow up with people well enough. Many times I hear about an issue with someone and in my prayer time I hear God’s voice saying “you should talk to them”. But you know. I don’t. I forget. Or I’m lazy. Or I send a text and don’t push it more than that. The relentless love and pursuit of Christ for His lost sheep. I’d be a terrible shepherd. I’m not the woman who searches the whole house. I look around, then shrug my shoulders and move on. Sometimes people thank me for all that I do for the ministry but the honest truth is that I feel like there is so much I could have done and probably should have done that I just didn’t do. And many times when I say “praise God” it’s just because that’s what Pastor Brandon used to say and there’s a soreness in me because I mean it with my mind but I don’t feel it always with my heart.
I think I’m more eloquent and smarter than I really am. Now I know that I am smart in certain areas. But the truth is that I often times feel so prideful in my intelligence and my knowledge. The problem is that the bloating of my mind has squashed out room in my heart. Sometimes in worship I’m so busy thinking about the sound system or the sermon I’m about to speak or that person who is there that I ignore the worship of my heart. I fear sometimes that I rely on the poetry and patterns of my voice during preaching and not on the voice of the Holy Spirit. To which I am often so sorely humbled with I hear my voice in the sermon recordings after.
I don’t pray enough. And I don’t say that like oh man I really need to pray more like I did when I was 19. I want to pray. I see the benefits and joy of prayer. I feel the coldness of my heart so often. Then you know? I just go to sleep. I just go on Instagram. And it’s crazy because God has blessed me with hearing His voice. The Holy Spirit has blessed me with tongues. I know that door to intimacy is unlocked yet so many times I just stare at the closed door and do nothing. I preach about the overwhelming love of Christ and yet so often I am satisfied with the trickle that I allow into my own heart.
Here is the crazy thing. I have performed and I have pretended. And I know that I will struggle with performing and pretending in the future. Yet Jesus has still died for me. And God still smiles upon me. And the Holy Spirit still walks within me. Even crazier still is that God has been growing in me and still uses me to do ministry and to be a blessing. I doubt myself and yet Jesus still believes in me now and for the future. I think often the temptation to perform or to pretend comes along with the lie that we are the same sinners we once were; that God has not done anything at all. But that’s not true. Even with my current issues I am not the same boy I once was. And God still sees me as the flawless, perfect bride that He sent His Son Jesus to die to help me become.
See I’ve been talking about wanting revival. Cause in my mind I really do want revival. I want to know what I means to be continually alive in the life that Jesus has given to me by grace. But on a practical level I know that I cannot hold onto the life of Christ while grasping the pride, pretending or performing, of my own self-deprecation. I’m saying these things because that super-Christian pastor that I pretend to be doesn’t need revival. And the prove-myself pastor that I used to try to perform to be doesn’t need revival. I’m saying these things because I want people to see me for who I am and who we all are: a sinner wrestling with God, a saint struggling with sanctification, a child leaning on the Father. Because that’s the person who needs revival.