The most courageous pastors are prophets. But most congregations don’t want their spiritual leaders to be prophets. When people gather together for worship after a busy, stressful week, most of us would prefer to be comforted, cheered, and congratulated, not nudged, challenged, and held accountable.
Nevertheless God has called those of us in professional ministry to be brave – even if it ticks people off and threatens our personal and professional lives.
It’s not easy being a courageous pastor especially if:
- We are dependent on the paycheck we receive from the very congregation we risk offending when we proclaim the Word of God in love.
- We serve a church that does not respect our authority or trust our vision.
What does a courageous pastor look like?
- A courageous pastor is more afraid of God than his/her congregation.
- A courageous pastor is an equal opportunity offender. (We don’t always side with the Republicans, the Democrats, the new members, the long-standing members, the rich, the poor, the most active members, the least active members, etc. etc.)
- A courageous pastor preaches the Word of God, even if it confounds and offends everybody.
- A courageous pastor stands up to bullies, even if the bullies are the biggest contributors, hold the historical power, and will do ungodly things that we – as the pastors – cannot and will no do ourselves in retaliation.
Every single pastor will deal with bullies if she/he stays in professional ministry long enough, and this experience is excellent for our prayer lives.
My own personal experience with bullies a few years ago is what made me more fearless because I learned that, even when people believed the worst about me after some serious defamation, God was faithful. We follow a Prophet – and Savior – who was rejected to the point of death. And – still – love won.
Being courageous is dangerous. But courageous congregations are lead by courageous leaders, and they are the ones who will actually transform the world in the name of Jesus.
Image of the prophet Jeremiah by Chagall. (Notice how haggard he looks.)