One of the greatest challenges for me as a pastor is to not succumb to the constant pressure of expectation. Members have fantasies of what their pastor should be. Church organizations, denominations or movements have fantasies of what its pastors should be. But worst of all, pastors themselves have fantasies of what they should be or would like to be.Wise words. After thirty-plus years in ministry, it's still a challenge at times not to play the expectations game (or, as he puts it, the "fantasy" game) and try to satisfy people's expectations, assumptions, demands, etc. People don't even realize they're doing it, and they've never stopped to define, let alone evaluate, their expectations. But as Barth so keenly put it, "It is you who have been commissioned, you, just as you are, not as minister, as pastor or theologian, not under any concealment or cover, but you yourself have simply to discharge this commission."
I make it my personal challenge to be exactly who I am: myself. I also encourage others to be exactly who they are.
I often took great comfort from something Karl Barth wrote in his fine little book, Homiletics:It is as the persons they are that preachers are called to this task, as these specific people with their own characteristics and histories. It is as the persons they are that they have been selected and called. This is what is meant by originality. Pastors are not to adopt a role. They are not to slip into the clothing of biblical characters. That would be the worst kind of comedy. They are not to be Luthers, churchmen, prophets, visionaries, or the like. They are simply to be themselves, and to expound the text as such. Preaching is the responsible word of a person of our own time. Having heard myself, I am called upon to pass on what I have heard. Even as ministers, it matters that these persons be what they are. They must not put on a character or a robe. They do not have to play a role. It is you who have been commissioned, you, just as you are, not as minister, as pastor or theologian, not under any concealment or cover, but you yourself have simply to discharge this commission.I would encourage pastors everywhere to find the courage to live up to this arduous but simple task. I realize and personally know the cost of taking such a risk. You might risk losing support, popularity, your church and even your job. But would you rather lose that or yourself?
From the naked pastor blog (yeah, you heard that right):