Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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What I Need from My Pastors

Last Fall, our team went through some pretty rigorous psychological evaluations. We told our stories, we rehashed our childhoods, and we laid out all the details of our marriages.

Apparently we passed because we’re stilling moving to SE Asia.

But I remember feeling so vulnerable. I opened up about the doubts and fears I had experienced in my faith. I shared the dark times in my walk with Christ and my journey to rediscovering my God.

The scariest part of the whole weekend was that I was telling all of this to one of my pastors.

One of my elders.

One of the men who could choose to pull my support and tell me that I wasn’t well-enough equipped to enter the Field of Harvest.

I remember the scariest exercise of the weekend. Our team was given a case study to discuss and present. Ohhh, and it was a doozy.

In the case study, a wife on The Field caught her husband looking at pornography. She reported to their team and gave them all the details.  Two pastors were coming for a visit in a couple of weeks, and several other factors played into the story.

{I dare any of you to read the word porn about 18 times in front of a panel of stoic church leaders and not lose it to girly giggles.}

Our task was to discuss how we would handle the situation if it were to happen with our own team.

We would protect the integrity of our teammate!
We would keep it a secret for him!
We would allow the couple some time away for healing!

All of our answers screamed loyalty and defensiveness. We would do our best to never let anyone find out about the incident.

After making our case, one person looked at us and asked us a hard question.

Why would you not take advantage of the fact that you have a group of pastors visiting your team in two weeks?

The room was silent. One of my church’s very own elders was sitting around the table, waiting on an answer. And because I can’t keep my loud-no-filter-overly-honest mouth shut, I blurted out the truth.

Because I’ve always viewed an eldership as a board of directors more than a group of men who want to shepherd my soul.

In many churches, pastors have become the decision-makers. They choose when services will be changed and what benevolence programs we can endorse and who gets keys to our buildings.

They have meetings and discuss important issues, but many times the everyday church member feels completely uninformed.

This leads to a lot of dangerous assumptions. We feel that our shepherds don’t care about our personal lives, and even worse – that they are there to catch us when we’ve done something wrong.

We expect perfection from these men, and feel that they expect the same from us.

It’s a nasty, unproductive, vicious cycle.

I honestly believe that many who are willing to serve as an overseer of a church want to fulfill Acts 20:28.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Sometime I just need this belief confirmed.

I need to know that my pastors are seriously concerned with shepherding my heart.

I need to know that my spiritual battles are more important than when we’ll have the next potluck meal.

I need to hear that I am not expected to be perfectly faithful in my periods of doubt and frustration.

I need to feel the comfort of an arm around me when I’m in despair – preferably the arm of someone who is years ahead of me in my faith.

I need to be empowered to love and serve others in my daily life, without fear that I need permission from a governing church board to simply do something good.

I need to stand with confidence that the men who oversee my church body are genuinely concerned about the spiritual health of each of its members.

I need to believe that we are not enemies – that the brothers and sisters who have committed their lives to Christ are all equal at the foot of the cross.

I need to know that my pastors are seriously concerned with shepherding my heart.

I will never forget the look on my elder’s face when I shared my fears with him. When I said I viewed the leaders of our church more like a board of directors than a group of shepherds.

There was so much hurt and disappointment on that man’s face. There was also so much understanding.

We have had a connection since that day that I will always hold dear. He and his wife are some of the most special people to my husband and me as we embark on this overseas assignment. Each time this elder prays for us, I wish I had worn waterproof mascara.

I’m finally part of a church family where I draw confidence in the fact that my soul is important to the shepherds of the flock. I do feel love, support, and genuine concern.

But now that I’ve tasted it, I see what I’ve been missing for so long. And I know that people I love are still stuck in vicious cycles of fear and mistrust.

My prayer today is that pastors will desire to shepherd, and that sheep will be willing to be led.

In 2012, one of our elders and his wife came with us to survey our future home.

In 2012, one of our elders and his wife came with us to survey our future home.


What are the fears you have in your church? Do you feel supported by your leaders? How can your pastors encourage you? How can you encourage your pastors?



AmberFebruary 1, 2014 - 11:37 am

This is my favorite, favorite story. I am thankful for your loud-no-filter-overly-honest mouth and heart.

Sister MamaFebruary 1, 2014 - 7:02 pm

I have felt this way for years & have found that many elders in various congregations of the Lord’s Church are just that, caretakers instead of caregivers. So many of them do not feel they need to continue their education & growth in the scripture & in faith. That they have, somehow, arrived and don’t need any further instruction. They become detached from the members &, as you said, keep everything secreted within their circle & even fail to communicate with each other at times. I pray for the eldership in all congregations of The Church to be open with the members. To keep us abreast of the status of the work being done in our nation & around the world. I have seen so many families discouraged & faith destroyed due to this mindset in the eldership. You opened the eyes of one elder. May the Lord open the eyes of all elders of The Lord’s Church so that faith may abound. God bless you for your openness.

Lauren PinkstonFebruary 1, 2014 - 9:49 pm

I’m thankful that you accept my loud-no-filter-overly-honest mouth and heart.

Lauren PinkstonFebruary 1, 2014 - 10:06 pm

Thanks for sharing! I have faith in the future : )