Since the beginning of the new television season this Fall, I’ve been watching the show Go On. Ryan King (played by Matthew Perry) is a sports radio commentator and is in the peak of his grief over the death of his wife. Because of an outburst as a result of grief, he is ordered to go into counseling.
Enter the support group. Each member of the group is quirky. While Ryan tries to resist the help at first, he becomes part of this community as they struggle together through their mourning. From his presence, some begin to speak about their grief. The diverse and quirky group of grievers become closer and lean more on one another.
Their fearless leader, Lauren, seems as if she has it together. But even her quirks seep through the cracks as she sits with her community.
This week’s episode “Do You Believe In Ghosts…Yes!” pointed to one of her faults. While she doesn’t want to lean on the group for her problems, being within a community, they find out that she has test anxiety and can’t pass her real estate exam. Her group values her presence and wants her to succeed. They work with her to pass the test, and, yes, even sit with her during the exam.
In many cases, as pastors and other types of leaders, we are required to facilitate a one way support system. Because of our boundaries, we don’t lean on others (and ethically know it’s not our place to be their burden). Yet, being in community and being human, boundaries don’t always have perfect edges. Our quirks will rise. Our problems will occasionally become transparent. While we work hard to keep boundaries, we are human, they are human, and humans need humans to thrive. God didn’t create pastors to be robots. Sometimes our humanness seeps through. And sometimes it is us pastors who need prayers from those for whom we often pray.
Even Jesus needed his community. As he prayed in the garden the night before his death, he needed his buddies around him. During those painful moments, he needed the love, energy and support of his followers to survive.
The greatest isn’t the greatest alone. Leaders aren’t leaders in a box. We all need each other. Yes, we can keep boundaries and be their support system. But because God is relational, and we are made in God’s image, we are relational too.
In this Go On episode, Ryan comments:
“Something magic about a great team. Jordan needed Pippen… Never won without him. Labron never won before Dwayne Wade. Some people got game they never knew they had before the right person came along and made them step it up and just be better. Sure you can be like Kobe – send away Shaq, Bill Jackson – think you can do it yourself… but… don’t be a hero. Take the help.”
As the support group sits with their leader during her exam, Ryan says to her “You are great with us around you. Be great.” Watching this show as a pastor, I see how the love of my community makes me a better pastor. I thank God for that love.