The Crying Pastor

Have you ever seen your pastor cry?

Pastors have lots of reasons to weep and yet we try to control ourselves.  Nobody can fully prepare for the constant good-byes of professional ministry: the families who move away, the families who basically disappear without understanding why they left, the youth who leave for college and never return, the people who die.  Pastors are not supposed to be blubbering messes and yet sometimes we are.

The hardest I’ve wept as a pastor: leaving congregations I’ve loved, burying elders I’ve loved, burying children.  No one prepares us for the layers of losses.

The best pastors I know show their vulnerability.  They share their hot-messedness.  They make it clear that they haven’t cornered the market on God’s Truth.  They authentically apologize when they make mistakes.

All pastors are human.  We cry.

We can only offer sound pastoral care if we serve according to our scars – not our wounds.  There was a time that I got choked up every time I preached and a lot of that had to do with losing my mother.  I didn’t have to be preaching on mothers or even thinking about my mother, but it was a deep, deep wound.

Wounded pastors lose the capacity to serve in healthy ways because we become the pastored rather than the pastor.  #BoundaryProblems

And yet, we also need to share our scars if in no other way than knowing the importance of keeping our mouths shut when other people share their brokenness because we know.  We know the pain.  We know to be present and we also know we can’t possibly fix it.

Some of the best ministers I’ve met have never been to seminary.  They are the neighbors who bring pie and sit in silence.  They are the friends who pray when they say they will.  They are the staff members who wear bow ties to the last staff meeting.

Tears of joy are obviously different from tears of despair.  I’ve experienced both in parish ministry, and if you look at human tears under a microscope, tears literally vary in appearance depending on the reason for the tears.

When was the last time you saw your pastor cry?  The answer reveals some essential information about that person.  Please pray for your pastors this week – both those who went to seminary and those who inherently know how to preach the gospel in the way they live their lives.

It’s quite possible that all of us need a good cry these days.

Image source.


2 responses to “The Crying Pastor

  1. I attended a church years ago in Florida as a “snowbird visitor” and found myself listening and then thinking during the next week about the pastor’s thoughtful sermon. He spoke from his heart and seemed to be struggling with something. I wasn’t surprised to hear the following summer that he came out as a gay man. The congregation accepted him and his family however he could no longer be their pastor. I have always wondered if he had been allowed to continue as a pastor, what a difference he would have made for so many more people.


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