The Better Pastor

Tonight, I had the sheer delight of spending the evening with my wonderful friend Sarah sipping margaritas in her backyard, playing with her babies and chatting with her husband. When I say delight, I mean it. These people are delightful. It’s delightful to find yourself in the presence of friends who continually say, “Why didn’t you move here sooner?”

I’m so grateful for friendships that begin so quickly and so easily. And then, two years later, I get to relish in the pleasure of talking about planning worship, crafting change and having a personal life. That’s right. Both Sarah and I are pastors. Which means that even our downtime includes a lot of shop talk. We talk about the things that we’re trying, the books we pretended to read, the people that make us crazy and the things that are breaking our hearts. We steal each others ideas and offer each other assurances — all with the salty blessing of margaritas. Somewhere in the midst of this sharing, Sarah said, “You’re such a better pastor than I am.”

I was so stunned that I didn’t assert what I believe to be true: Sarah is a way better pastor than I am. But, as Sarah pointed out, I make more hospital visits. And I apparently post about this on social media with some frequency. I say things about how deep and profound these visits are. To this, I was able to say, “You know, social media lies.” She laughed and said how she wished her life really was how it appears on social media life. Because let’s be honest. We put our best faces forward on social media — for our relatives, our church members and our seminary classmates that may or may not be reading. We want put our best selves forward on social media.

That’s social media. I suppose it’s fine to sound a little more perfect no matter how irreverent or transparent we think we sound. But, with friends? With the people who feel like long lost friends after only two years? I hope we can be our real selves — the selves that we claim should appear on social media but always sounds a little too raw or too icky. Let’s not worry who is the better pastor. Let’s not compare how we sound on social media or what new crazy idea we’re trying to realize in our congregation. Because that’s not what it’s really about. It’s not about how big the steeple is or how many people show up on Sunday morning, it’s how much we love this awesome work. That’s what makes us good pastors. We love what we do so much so that we laugh and cry about this wild work over margaritas.

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