Carlos Rodriguez is a flawed pastor, and he’s happy to have you know it.
Rodriguez wrote in a recent piece for Relevant magazine that he has messed up several times since he was ordained as a pastor at 22 years old. He said he has embellished stories he told to his congregation’s members and dismissed other people’s problems in sake of his own.
“There have been times when someone brought a concern or problem to me and I essentially said, ‘Get over it.” Rodriguez wrote. “I usually said it in a nice way. I sounded spiritual and caring while doing it. But it was the advice of someone who didn't really care.”
Now, Rodriguez is looking to change things. He confessed that he’s going to be a better pastor by opening his heart to the people he leads.
Rodriguez is one of more than 600,000 clergymen and women who lead their congregations in North America, according to the 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. And although Rodriguez plans to do better, there are pastors out there who are bringing their church’s people closer to God every day.
Here are five things your pastor may be doing to help you build a stronger relationship with God.
They communicate about the doctrine clearly
According to an article on Christianity.com from Eric McKiddle, pastors must make sure they know the doctrine well so that people in a congregation understand it. Believers must know the specifics of doctrine so that any opposing views can be cleared up, Kiddle wrote.
Sometimes believers have doubts about doctrine. But if pastors know the ins and outs of scripture, they can help the faithful re-establish their beliefs and understand their religion a little bit more.
They literally tell you how to get closer to God
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren literally told listeners how to get closer to God in a broadcast in February 2014. He suggested believers search for the meaning behind their faith since it’ll help them embrace God in a more fulfilling way. He also suggested people listen to what God’s saying to them. Only through God's words can people truly understand God, and thus get closer to him, Warren suggests.
This is an example of what pastors can do to help their congregation's members get closer to the Lord. By explaining ways they can build and strengthen their faith, they’re finding ways to grow closer to Heavenly Father.
They’re here to help you with your toughest struggles
No matter what comes in life, a pastor is there to help you conquer it. That includes learning about new techniques and helpful tips for everyday problems.
Pastors put this to the test in Riviera Beach, Florida. According to the city’s local NBC affiliate WPTV, pastors recently spent time learning about domestic violence to help those struggling with it. This helps pastors support those within the faith community.
“They're concerned about turning to family members because they know family members will react,” Annette Douglas told WPTV. “They’re concerned about turning to complete strangers because they look at them as though they're weird, but they can turn to a pastor or faith leader who has understanding and shows empathy.”
By taking a proactive approach, pastors are finding new ways to help church members deal with the crises that plague them.
Pastors make people feel more satisfied with God
Pastors can help bring their members closer to God by helping them feel more satisfied with God.
John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, wrote for Desiring God that pastors often inspire people’s confidence in God. They tell their church members to love God so they’ll find a happy life, and they use stories that showcase God’s glory and beauty.
Piper also suggests pastors point to passages and verses in the Bible that believers can turn to in times of hardship. This helps some believers see what God wants them to do and keeps the Bible in their mind throughout the day, Piper wrote.
No matter what your troubles are, they’re there for you
Pastors aren’t quick to turn away anyone that comes to them. In fact, pastors have recently begun to embrace new forms of healing to help their members.
According to The New York Times, pastors are looking to counsel mentally ill members of their congregations. In the past, some church members may have avoided faith leaders because they didn't recognize mental illness as being legitimate, or believe prayer is the only medicine.
Now, pastors will talk with their members about mental problems and send them to secular psychologists or doctors so they can get help, according to the Times. Pastors will often tell members how their mental illness fits in with God’s plan and what that means for their faith, the Times reported.
This shows that no matter how large your problems may be, your pastors will work with you to make sure you’re understanding God’s plan for your life and getting the best treatment.