I will not be an emotionally manipulative pastor: Or, Why I promise to Play


Don’t you hate overly serious pastors?  Don’t you know that their earnestness belies their insecurity?  When one’s in a position of spiritual authority, be it a situation where we counsel, preach, or lead a meeting, there can be a temptation to use seriousness to gain leverage.  By being overly serious about a matter, we can manipulate the emotions of a meeting.  It becomes unsafe for anyone to disagree.  We’re so serious in the delivery of our sermon we must be right.  We’re so stern as we warn someone to flee from sin as we counsel them in that we demand allegiance.  We’re so prayerfully dedicated to leading the meeting our way that everyone thinks our plans must be from God.  Or, so we’d have you believe…muhahahaha!

The reality is pastors are just like everybody else.  They are struggling to figure out God’s will just like the person on your left and your right.  We are just as selfish as everyone else around us too, which means we want to get our way and we don’t want to look bad either.  Feigning spiritual intensity helps us accomplish both — we can get our way because those around us are uncomfortable disagreeing with a serious and spiritual person and we avoid the insecurity of not knowing the answer to a theological theodicy, counseling conundrum, or meeting mystery.

The antithesis of seriousness is playfulness.  A playful spirit puts everyone at ease and it allows sermons to be heard honestly, meetings to run smoothly, and when appropriate counseling sessions to move into real heartfelt sharing.  Playfulness seems so unspiritual, but it is the essence of a healthy system.  I hope our church is marked by playfulness.  I hope people feel playful around me…enough so to make fun of me and me them. 🙂