The vulnerable and transparent youth pastor

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Keep the circle tight and move in silence. These phrases have only grown in popularity as more people jockey for social and corporate ladders positions. But is this true for those in ministry? What should our network of friends and peers look like?

We certainly can’t let everyone in our lives be as close as our families. Some of the biggest struggles pastors and leaders can face are those who want to be as close to us as possible. But we also cannot isolate people, making them feel that we don’t care about them or kick people to the curb to fend for themselves. It’s literally in our job description to shepherd and care for others. The balance can be challenging to keep, but it is essential to survive in ministry. 

So, where is the fine line of walking with people without letting everyone in the deepest places of your life as a pastor? We need to start with a clearer view of transparency and vulnerability. I’ve heard it said that transparency is allowing others to see where you are and what is going on; vulnerability allows for people to not only see your life but speak into it as well. They have a voice. This is how we can lead effectively: be transparent with all but vulnerable with a few. 

There are people that we deem “safe.” These are our spouses, significant others, and close friends and family. They are important! It would be a tragedy not to let these people have a voice in what we are doing, especially if we are off-track and need correction. What a sad situation if they cannot access our hearts as we lead others. If we do ministry isolated and alone, we’ll wither away. We need people.

Don’t let voices tell you that you don’t need people in your life, that you’re better when your circle is the smallest, or that you must develop the thickest skin to last in ministry.

We are better together. Grow your network. Find your people. Guard your heart. 

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