Pastors, Privacy, and the Incarnation

IMG_0741 We often have conversations with folks in the ministry about “the fishbowl”: the feeling (or reality!) that the pastor’s family lives a public life, often on view to the congregation. It’s part of the deal; something that ministers, their wives, and sometimes their children struggle with, as they often feel vulnerable, as though their privacy is constantly violated. When you’re on call 24/7, standing in front of the congregation weekly, frequently opening your home to new and needy people, and your salary has an annual, public review, it’s easy to feel that way. The fishbowl becomes an enemy, fought because we don’t enjoy the privacy that other families seem to.

At the recent Sola13 conference, Albert Mohler noted that in revealing Himself in Scripture, God willingly gave up the perfect privacy that the Trinity had always enjoyed; He did it in order to save sinful man.

In the incarnation, the second Person of the Trinity gave up nearly all privacy as part of His humiliation, taking on flesh and dwelling among us, where people watched Him, listened to Him, and followed Him to the point that it was difficult to get away and rest. Jesus had very little privacy on this earth; He willingly gave it up for our sakes. From the privacy of perfect self-communion and glory, to being wrapped in swaddling clothes and put in an animal feedbox, to being stripped and nailed to a cross, to welcoming countless sinners into heavenly glory for a shared eternity–our Lord has given up privacy on earth and in Heaven.

Perhaps the fishbowl is less of a vocational drawback than it is an opportunity to practice the God-like sacrifice of giving up privacy so that we can minister the Word to men and women who need it.