The ideal pastor is a man of honesty, integrity, transparency. When he speaks, he does so on behalf of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit, under the authority of scripture, so you know he’s telling the truth.
The catch is that as a pastor (as a Christian, as a reasonable human being), I’m supposed to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), and sometimes the most loving thing is to not tell the whole truth.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m a compulsive liar or anything. I take my role as pastor, and my responsibility to be a Christ-like example very seriously. I am a teller of the truth. I don’t bend or twist it to suit my needs or desires. I’m not a liar, nor am I deceptive. I try my best to live up to the ideal described in the first sentence. It’s just that sometimes, I don’t say everything I wish I could.
A great example of this is the blog post you’re reading right now. I have a list of “pastoral confessions” I’m going to write about in this series. I was about halfway through the first one when I took a break to read it to my wife. Her response?
“You can not publish that.”
She wasn’t being mean, she was being a good wife. She was protecting me from myself and my desire to be brutally honest. Key word there? Brutally.
The blog post that I had typed was 100% true, accurate, and heart-felt. I typed from experience. She agreed with every word of it, but it was brutally honest, and unless I’m mistaken, you can’t be both brutal and loving at the same time.
So, as a pastor, sometimes I hold back. I won’t lie, and I won’t be deceptive, but I also won’t tell you everything I’m feeling or thinking, because my first responsibility is to guide you closer to God, and that’s tough to do when I’m being brutal instead of loving.