WHEN THE SEARCH COMMITTEE at my current church was considering my qualifications, they interviewed some parishioners at my former church. The committee was glad to hear that I was close to everyone equally and did not play favorites. Although the committee viewed this as a compliment, I am not sure it was. It merely said that I had mastered the illusion of intimacy. For some reasons I will probably never know, I was closer to fewer people there than I had been at any other church.
This phenomenon has been discussed at length in ministry publications such as Leadership Journal and others, but the truth is even more painful at mid-life:
lthough we have relationships with many in the church, we may be close to no one. This is compounded by the fact that most every person in the church feels as if he or she knows the pastor on some level. Many of us, by our use of personal illustrations in sermons, may give others the feeling that they know us personally. They do not. Some pastors, especially ...1