Pastors, what are we protecting? 8 Reasons why being vulnerable is better.

Have you ever heard or read something that shocked you, but the shock wasn’t necessarily in the statement. The shock was the fact that it tapped into your past. Our memories are so powerful. It amazes me how one moment in the present can send you back to a place many years before, but in the moment, it was just like it happened yesterday.

I saw a tweet the other day.

I found myself sitting in one of my bible college classes listening to my professor saying the words,

“As a pastor, you can’t be too vulnerable. Don’t open up to your people lest you tarnish the office of “The Pastor.” The sheep need a shepherd to follow and they won’t if they know you are struggling. If you’re dealing with issues, leave them at home and fake it till you make it. Protect the office of pastor.”

For the first few years of ministry, I pretended I had it all together. My sermons contained the words “you” instead of “we.” I’d want to respond to messages or even in worship but I was caught up in the “office” and I was missing my purpose. In my mind, People don’t want to really KNOW their pastor. They wanted to follow an image.

But the more I began to step back, the more I realized two things:

1 – To have people follow an image that isn’t authentic is deceptive.

2 – This is not the way Jesus led.

To be “real” is to be “vulnerable” and to be “vulnerable” is to live dangerously. I’m not talking about TMI in regards to intimate things that are nobody’s business. But true vulnerability that, yes, lowers the defenses, but helps people to see who I am. I know that revealing the real “me” can open me up to attack. In my opinion, it’s the only way to live.   As a pastor, it’s the only way for me to effectively minister.

8 Reasons why vulnerability is best:

1 – Vulnerability reminds you that are not a super-human. It puts you on common ground with everyone around you. Ephesians 2:8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

2 – Vulnerability removes the idol of “YOU.” It keeps you from worshiping and striving after an image of who you think you are. It keeps your eyes on Jesus and makes His image in you a priority. 2 Corinthians 3:18 “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

3 – Vulnerability reveals to OTHERS your lack of perfection. I remember someone saying to me years ago, “The ground around the cross is level.” We’ve all strayed away. We all have screwed up (Romans 3:23).

4 – Vulnerability gives credence to the narrative of Christ in your life. It helps people see Jesus working in you. Galatians 2:20 “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

5 – Vulnerability fosters humility in you before pride can come out of you. I love what Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Being vulnerable helps chase away the attitude of entitlement and helps us live as a servant.

6 – Vulnerability opens the door for others to minister to you. Our defenses are lowered in vulnerability. It’s tough to do because we’re afraid of being hurt again. It’s in John 12 where we see the story of Mary anointing Jesus.   Her vulnerability burst open the doors of her heart to receive what Jesus had in store for her that left her completely changed.

7 – Vulnerability reminds others they are not alone. It becomes the pipeline for the testimony of Christ. I love the tenacity of Paul who in Romans 7:15 shared, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Yet in the bluntness of his struggles, was perhaps the greatest minister of the Gospel we know about. His openness about his humanity didn’t stifle the work of Jesus. It gave Jesus a platform to shine.

8 – Vulnerability brings intimacy. This is what most experience on the wedding night.  Being vulnerable paves the way to intimate moments.  Some of my favorite moments in the bible is when we see images of Jesus in vulnerable situations.  He was angry at money-changers and he was upset at disciples for preventing the kids from coming to him. Jesus was overwhelmed with compassion seeing people come out of the city of Jerusalem and he was overwhelmed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Outside of the ultimate point of vulnerability, the cross, favorite point of vulnerability of Jesus is found in  John 11. At the funeral of a friend, verse 35 it says, “Jesus wept.” In moments like these, his vulnerability draws me closer to him.  He cried.  His heart hurt at the loss of a friend.  And his vulnerability, Jesus drew close to us and brings us closer to him.  He identified with us and, through that, it made a way for intimacy with God.

What are we really protecting by restricting vulnerability?  Are we protecting ourselves from hurt?  Or are we trying to protect an image of ourselves that we were never really supposed to have? We don’t need perfect people in the world. We need disciples of Jesus ready to show the world the life of Christ working in our humanity.  The way to do it, is to be vulnerable, first to Christ, then to others.

Thanks for letting me ramble…


5 responses to “Pastors, what are we protecting? 8 Reasons why being vulnerable is better.”

  1. Excellent word. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Amy. Thank you so much for reading.

  2. […] Dave Barringer has a good word for pastors: 8 reasons why being vulnerable is better. […]

  3. This was perfect. Thank you for sharing your heart and your insight. I’m striving to let go of my fear of being vulnerable (I’m such a people pleaser and afraid of people not liking me) and embrace what God says about me and has for me. Thanks again!

    1. I totally get it! Thanks for reading.

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