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Paul and Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe, Acts 14:8-20

Pastor Imperfect

Oh, my friends - it is so dangerous to put human beings on the level of gods! As a former pastor, I can tell you there is incredible pressure placed on ministers to rise to the occasion of godliness. Mistakes are treated as horrendous failures of character. Choices are picked apart and criticized - with every choice there are always at least some parishioners that disagree. A divorce is scandalous. An addiction is devastating. On the flip side, putting the pastor on a pedestal can make pastor and parishioner think that pastors should - or even could - be better human beings than most. But it's simply not true. Pastors are leaders, imperfect, human, flawed, educated, fallible, capable, and everything in-between. 

Here's the truth you never wanted to know. Your pastor poops. (Yes, I said it.) Your pastor swears. (Maybe not in front of you, but just see what happens when they try to fix a car or hang wallpaper.) Your pastor judges you. (Not often, and they work hard not to, but judgments pop into our heads before we can edit them sometimes.) And all those things, while they are not ideal - they're ok. Cause they're human. Your pastor also thinks about you when they're eating dinner with their families. Your pastor buys supplies for your Sunday School out of their own pockets. Your pastor visits you in for a pre-surgical visit at 4:30am, even when you forget to tell them the surgery was moved to noon. So be gentle on your idols. See them - really, truly see them - as the imperfect, perfect that they - and you - truly are.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 14:8-20

In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.