One of the things I enjoy about being the pastor of a small church is that I get to know everyone. Anonymity isn’t a luxury a small church affords. That’s one advantage I think an intimate (small) church setting has over larger churches. People will be known. That dynamic, pastor, has to work both ways. Not only do the people need to be known by you in order for you to effectively serve them, but they need to know you as well.
Self disclosure can be a slippery slope for a pastor. The trick is to share enough that people can genuinely know you while maintaining enough discretion that you keep the integrity of the office. By that I mean that you don’t share inappropriately — too much information with people who are either not ready for it, or, at present, not worthy of it. There are several things, however, that should be shared with your congregation which will help them to gain confidence in you, and that will encourage them in their own Christian walk. Shepherds lead by example, and that example must be presented. The apostle Paul said to the church in Corinth, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” It’s not about arrogance or pride, it’s about leadership. People need to be led, and they need to see where you’ve come from, where you’re going, and how you’re getting there.
There may be long time members who know you and all the details, but I bet there are many who do not. Pastor, you cannot be closed if the people under your care and leadership are to grow. Sometimes past hurts and issues can make us more guarded, but we need to overcome that by the grace and power of Jesus who endured far more than you and I ever will. He is leading us to forgive, to be made whole, and to lead and care for those he has placed under your care.
Chuck Lawless has published an article, 12 Things a Church Should Know about It’s Pastor. It’s a quick read, and I suggest you take a minute to peruse it and then prayerfully determine how you can share your heart and your story with your fellowship to encourage them in their own walk with God.