I remember growing up in church and always feeling a little intimidated when one of the pastors would walk by my family in the foyer or hallway. There was this reverence and awe that came over me each and every time I saw one of them, and I believe it was because I truly did respect the calling that God had placed on each of their lives. But while my reverence for them was vast, my parents always took the time to remind me that they need Jesus just as much as the next person. They didn’t say this with ill-intent, but instead to give me an honest look at the reality of the Christian life. That we’re going to make mistakes. That we all are in need of Jesus.
I didn’t think much of what my parents had told me over the years, and I remember continuing to put my pastors and leaders on a pedestal of perfection and righteousness. I did this on my own, and it’s because something within my heart couldn’t grasp the idea that pastors could be as sinful and messed up as any other person in the world. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I remember my parents sitting down with me one night expressing to me that they had something important they wanted to talk to me about. I remember being extremely confused and hoping to God they weren’t about to tell me mom was pregnant again.
All jokes aside, my father began sharing with me that my youth pastor at church was recently caught in an inappropriate relationship with one of the female students, and because of this was going to be fired from the church and arrested. Wait…what? You could have heard a pin drop in our living room. I was taken back.
At first, I didn’t really know what to think. I kind of thought it was a joke, but then realized how twisted my parents would have to be in order to joke about something like that. Immediately I started thinking back to all the sermons this guy had preached on about purity and what it means to be a real Christian.
My heart immediately felt betrayed, my skin became tough, and for the next 10 years of my life, I took out my anger toward anyone and everyone who affiliated themselves with Christianity. I remember thinking to myself, “What a hypocrite.”
The reality was, I was no better of a Christian than he was. Jesus died for him just as much as he died for me. And we were both imperfect and in need of a perfect Savior.
I wrongly held my pastors and leaders to an unattainable standard, and because of this found myself in a place of distaste and pain toward the church for a very long time. What this pastor did was terribly wrong and obviously deserved consequences, but so was the standard that I was holding him to. It wasn’t fair for me to hold him to such a place of perfection. Why? Because as humans, we’re all just one decision away from making a mistake or fueling our sinful nature.
Christians are still human.
With all that being said, it’s been about eight years since God has brought me into my ministerial journey and the adventure itself has been incredible, to say the least. But although I am technically an ordained pastor in the beautiful state of Tennessee, a Christian author and a speaker, this doesn’t mean that I am without flaw or failure. I mess up all the time. I say things I shouldn’t say, respond in ways I shouldn’t respond and pursue things I shouldn’t pursue. Excuse me for being honest with you, but it’s true. I’m human. My heart is filled with trash outside of Christ. This doesn’t mean I’m a hypocrite. It means I’m in need of the cross of Christ.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” —Romans 3:23
No matter if you’re a pastor, an author, a father, a mother, a janitor or even a dentist, you’re still human, and you’re still going to make mistakes, regardless of if you’re a Christian. The Christian life is full of imperfections, hence we needed a perfect Savior to die upon a splintered piece of wood on our behalf. We’re never going to be perfect, nor will we ever be able to obtain anything close to it.
Does this mean we give up and accept our sinful nature? No. We pursue righteousness, purity and the light of Christ, but we don’t beat ourselves up if we are to trip over the hurdles of our flesh sometimes. We seek forgiveness, accept grace, learn from our mistakes and push forward toward another day. With that being said, we have to realize that Christians aren’t hypocrites, we’re human. We aren’t going to reflect Jesus perfectly, nor are we going to live a life that is flawless and without mishaps.