I know there has been a ton of hoopla over the mega-church pastor in Charlotte who is currently building a 16,000 sqft home.
Typically, I swim-move these debates/conversations as I don’t want to address topics that I don’t have first hand knowledge. This does not mean that I’m unwilling to interact with these issues. There are just so many hot-topic issues within the church today that I find it impossible to address some and not others. Further, I try to stay as focused as I can on the topics that seem to matter.
As a pastor, though, I believe the issue surrounding a pastor’s habitat matters.
The word “pastor” in the original literally means, “shepherd” or “to shepherd” and is typically used in the New Testament to refer to Jesus Himself. The imagery here is one of a shepherd living among his flock, personally caring for their needs, and defending them from harm. Jesus refers to Himself as the “Good Shepherd” and implores Peter to “Shepherd My Sheep.” Peter then goes on to use this exact imagery when he writes to those who are called to lead the church in saying, “shephard the flock of God that is among you.” Paul will remind his friends in Thessaloniki that he loved them so much that he not only shared the Gospel with them, but shared his very own life with them as well. Jesus, as God Himself, became flesh and blood and “moved into the neighborhood”–not out of it.
These are the images of a New Testament “pastor.”
My wife and I own what we could consider a “nice” home in a subdivision of Charlotte. Some may say that it’s a bit too nice for a pastor or that it’s in too nice of a neighborhood. Others may say that it’s “not that big” whereas others may argue differently. Honestly, I find the whole home comparison game silly as we all live in mansions compared to the worlds wealth and living conditions.
However, after living in our new home for less than a year, my wife and I felt called to go live among those we serve.
So, after 10 years of shepherding young professionals through “lights, lyrics, and lessons” we decided to see what our “lives” might do–so we moved into the neighborhood, not out of it.
We rented our home and moved into a 900 sqft apartment (with our three small children) in the heart of where young professionals live. We are one of the few married couples in the entire complex as it’s nothing but 20-30something single adults–and I love it.
The thing I love most about living in this environment is that I’m helplessly myself.
People see me as I truly am–not how I want them to see me. They see how I relate to my wife. How I treat my kids. How I conduct myself. What I wear when I take out the trash. What I look like early in the morning (or after too late of a night!).
They see me in flesh and blood not in pixels and high definition.
They see how I live every bit of my life, not just how I appear for 60 minutes on a Sunday morning. They can either affirm or deny whether or not my life aligns with Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3–not assume based on my sermons or blog entries.
Simply put, our habitat reveals our habits to those we lead–and that is why habitat matters for any pastor.
Are we going to live in an apartment forever? Probably not.
Is my current living situation the standard for all pastors? Hell no.
But have we learned that our lives are more powerful than any lesson or sermon we’ve ever preached?
You better believe it.