When I first started pastoring, I was told by numerous people that it would take a number of years before people would respect my views. In many ways, the first few years of serving as a pastor is spent earning people’s trust. Can you be trusted? Will you be leaving soon? Are you really one of us or are you just someone who yells at us every week? Those are the types of questions initially running subtly through the minds of many people. So I just buckled up and focused on doing what I thought pastors do… pray, teach the Bible, answer people’s questions, and help where I could.
After a few years of being at Trinity Christian Fellowship, I noticed a peculiar thing happen. It took a few years for our church to actually start growing, but as new people started attending our church, I was their pastor. Yes, you read that right. I wasn’t their interim pastor or just their preacher, I noticed that I was a functional pastoral person in their life. They actually came to me with their problems and wanted counseling, as scary as that might sound. It was actually a bit overwhelming because it felt like it happened overnight. I went from spending all week studying my Bible and praying and having very little interaction with people problems to constantly hearing about broken marriages and relationship issues and parenting problems. And then, a little later, people who had been in our community for awhile transitioned from approaching me in a distant way to allowing me to pastor them too. These people, as I understand it, simply came to a place where they could trust me and understood that I was there to help.
But not everyone did and not everyone does.