I’m a pastor and, I hate to say, I sometimes tell lies.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate lying. And I try hard to live a life of integrity.
I’m not even good at lying; my wife and kids tell me I’m a terrible liar. They can tell within seconds if I’m trying to pull one past them (practical jokes are really hard to pull off because of this).
But sometimes, as a byproduct of what I do in ministry, I say things that aren’t 100 percent true.
And I’m not sure I’m alone.
In the hopes of keeping me honest (and maybe helping non-pastors understand a pastor’s world), here are seven lies I’ve caught myself telling:
1. I’m doing great.
That’s what I say to almost anyone who asks me how I am. But it’s not always true.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should burden strangers or Sunday morning guests with the ‘real’ answer, but sometimes I’ve said this to people close to me when I haven’t been great.
The point is not that you tell everyone when you’re struggling, but you do need to tell someone.
2. There were ‘X’ hundred (thousand) people at the event.
There’s even a name for this—pastor math.
I have a tendency to round attendance up if I don’t watch myself. Maybe it stems from insecurity. Or a sense of inadequacy. Or insanity. I don’t know. But I have to check myself to make sure I’m accurate.
Why do I feel I the truth is inadequate?
3. It was awesome!
Sometimes, I’m tempted to spin events as better than they really are. It’s a much better practice to pick out specific things that were genuinely wonderful, and leave things that bothered me to a private debrief later.
And if you make it a pattern to say things were awesome when they weren’t, people know. Fortunately for me, I’m part of a church where things are actually awesome a lot of the time.
But I need to make sure my vocabulary matches the experience.