Culture At Large

Can you talk honestly to your pastor?

Andy Rau

When you're around your pastor, are you able to be open and honest—or does the presence of a pastor make you clam up and behave differently?

A very short reflection by a former pastor at Dear God raises an interesting, and slightly worrisome, issue:

Now, I am on the outside of the church looking in and I don’t like what I see.... Now that I am not a pastor, people are honest with me. I had no idea how hard life was for so many people because when they came on my "turf" they pretended just as much as I did.

There are obviously several different serious issues raised by his reflection, but Jollyblogger has a good bit of commentary that focuses in on one question: Are people able to speak openly to their church leaders? He's not referring to you keeping a lid on what you really think about the pastor's new haircut; he's asking if it's common for people to hide their true selves and hurts from their pastors.

I've wondered about this in the past, but mostly in a somewhat lighthearted way: I've noticed that having a pastor in a social group tends to cut down on people's use of profanity, as if people (even non-churchgoers) feel some pressure to behave in the presence of a pastor. But I'd not considered the more serious implications.

Do you have trouble being open with your pastor? Does your pastor know your real spiritual struggles and concerns, or do you put on a mask to hide your real feelings? If you've ever spoken to your pastor about personal struggles or spiritual problems, are you able to be completely honest and straightforward about them, or do you try to whitewash or hide what's really going on?

Pastors, do you sense that people in your congregation are keeping their personal problems and struggles hidden from you? And what, if anything, do you think might change this situation?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, The Church