Do you remember the scene in that great military courtroom drama, A Few Good Men?
Lt. Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!
For a while there I was hearing a lot about the need for pastors to be more transparent with their people. They want to know that you are human, they said. They need to know that you struggle with the same things they struggle with, they said. It’s good for them to know the truth, they said. But the problem is…
THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Or at least most can’t.
It’s true, Pastors need someone safe to talk to, but it is rare that a pastor finds such a person in their own church.
If you’re having a crisis of faith, you probably shouldn’t talk to a board member about it.
If your marriage is really struggling, you probably shouldn’t talk to a deacon about it.
If you’ve slipped into some type of harmful, addictive habit, you probably shouldn’t include this in one of your sermons.
If you’re struggling with anger or hate, directed towards individuals or the church as a whole, you probably should find someone outside of the church to reveal this to.
I’ve had pastors share with me all of these things, and more. The thing is…I’m safe. I’m removed from the situation, so I can offer some objectivity. They are not running the risk of getting fired with me. I’m not going to turn their transparency around and bite them on the….well you get the picture. Someone once said, “Don’t bleed around sharks.”
Maybe this isn’t you. Maybe you’ve got some wonderful people or good friends in your church that you could tell anything to and you would not regret it. But if this is you, and I really hope it is, you are in the great minority.
In order to be spiritually and emotionally healthy, pastors need someone they can be transparent with, but chances are they will not find that kind of person in their church. This is sad, but true.
So is it hopeless? Are pastors destined to live a life alone, with secrets or hurts no one knows about except, maybe their spouse? I’ve been there. I’ve felt that way. But let me suggest some ways you might find that ‘safe’ person.
- You might find someone in your local ministerial association.
- You might find someone outside of your church but inside of your denomination.
- You might find someone from your old college days, someone who might even live outside of the state but who you could connect with over the phone. I’ve personally seen this work.
- You could get a coach or a spiritual director.
- You could connect with a counselor.
Can you think of any other possibilities?
Don’t give up. Don’t assume that this is the way it is and nothing can be done about it. Come to Jesus, unburden your heart to him. Jesus is not a shark. Ask Jesus to lead you to someone safe whom you could be transparent with.
You can find someone who can “…handle the truth!”