How many stories should a pastor tell about himself when he is the hero?
Hearing a pastor share personal success stories begin to make me feel like he has never heard of the word humility and how many pieces of humble pie he needs to eat to recognize it. He is holy. He is an incredible evangelist. He is much better at getting people saved than I ever could be. His prayer life must be incredible. Wow- he committed to fasting for 40 days? I have a hard time making it past the first hour. You mean you have read the bible cover to cover more than hundred times? I am a little embarrassed to say that every time I get to Leviticus I quit.
I am sure that is not the pastors intent. He is probably trying to share encouraging stories from his life in order to help his people realize that these opportunities are indeed possible! He is trying to share motivating experiences that have brought him closer to Christ and brought him into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Unfortunately, it rarely comes across that way.
Two lessons on why you shouldn’t be the hero of your illustrations as a pastor.
1. Don’t be the hero of all your illustrations because people will relate more to your failures than your successes.
In a positive sense people can learn from you when they see you on their level. We are in a role to encourage our people to grow deeper in their understanding of who God is and live their faith out in the workplace and home. Just because you carry the title of pastor doesn’t elevate you to a higher status. Matthew 23:1-12 shows the story of the Pharisees who loved their title and they were rebuked for it. When they see that you have weaknesses and difficulties you are able to give an accurate picture of where we are and where we hope to be.
2. Don’t be the hero of all your illustrations because people will eventually get tired of hearing your legendary stories in comparison to the realities of their life.
In a negative sense it really gets fatiguing to hear the pastor share story after story of his heroics. He may say, “After having 100 guns pointed at me”, “after I saved the entire village” (twice), “after I prayed and a city came to Christ”, or “after a ten minute conversation someone changed their last name because of my impact on their life”.
Pastors need to stop seeing themselves as the heroes and raise up their congregation and begin telling success stories of their people. Instead of the positive impact that pastors hope their stories have, it results in either in at best, a diminished practical application or at worst, a demoralized and defeated congregants who can never live up to their holy pastor who has a seat reserved for him next to God (or so you might think after hearing all of his stories).
The real issue at stake is pride and arrogance. If the Lord isn’t building the builder labors in vain and if the Lord isn’t watching over the city the watchman watches in vain. (Ps. 127)
May we constantly invite God to do the work and constantly seek for others to get the credit knowing that God is at work in their lives and we have the honor of empowering them!