A Glass Door for this Pastor’s Study, Please

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My most recent study door

I mean it. Literally.

A door to the pastor’s study, made of glass. Big, see-through glass.

The solid wood door is the standard door for the pastor’s study.

A pastor’s solid wood door stands guard, protecting confidentiality, privacy, sacred space, even secrecy. The solid wood door says, “What goes on in here is entrusted completely to the pastor, and no one else will ever see, hear or know about it.”

A glass door tells a different story:

  • A glass door is a visible sign of an intention to be transparent.
  • A glass door reveals an awareness of the potential of abuse behind opaque doors.
  • A glass door acknowledges that those who profess Christianity are not automatically trustworthy.
  • A glass door attempts to create a new professional standard, knowing that professional helpers — like teachers, coaches, and pastors — have betrayed children and youth behind doors of secrecy.

We knew of the dangers of clergy abuse long before current events outed the Duggars and Senator Denny.

Expect this from a glass door:

  • All confidentiality is maintained here. What is said with the door closed cannot be heard.
  • A pastor’s study is no place for privacy. Privacy is offered by doctors, therapists, some friends, a partner, a lover, a spouse. Through a pastor’s study glass door, someone could see someone crying, someone laughing, a Bible being read, a shared prayer. These are not private activities in a congregation. The specific content is confidential; it is yours to hold or share.
  • Secrecy is out of the question. There are no secret visits to church, even to a pastor’s study. If you come to church, expect to be seen and identified. Others may wonder what brings you to “talk to the pastor.” Let them speculate. It’s yours to tell, or not. If you really don’t want to risk being seen with a pastor at church in the pastor’s study, then we can meet — and be seen more-or-less anonymously — in a coffee shop or a restaurant.
  • Safety is maximized, for you and for me and for the congregation behind a glass door. I have been assaulted more than once behind a wooden door. At least once, I have been saved from assault by a glass door and someone who knew when to knock and ask if everything was all right. I say “at least once” because who knows how many situations stayed appropriate just because the glass door was there.

A pastor’s study is space where we can provide gentle, compassionate, strong care in interactions that are appropriate, confidence-inducing, even life-giving.

There can be objections to a glass door. Here are some non-fiction ones:

  • “(Former) Pastor XYZ never complained about that.” This is not about doors. (See: Pastor, new.)
  • “How can you maintain confidentiality?” By not talking about it or acknowledging it happened at all.
  • “Well, OK, if you want to be politically correct.” I want to be professionally competent.
  • “Too bad the world has come to this.” No, it is good that we know better now, and can do better to prevent abuse and exploitation behind closed doors.
  • “What if you need to change clothes?” What the . . . ?! Um, door marked “Women,” down the hall.

Not content to keep the gospel behind any door, pastors are called by God and spiritually wired to proactively facilitate God’s presence appropriately and compassionately outside and beyond.  We have held sacred space in a hospital hallway, by a car wreck on a roadside, outside a courtroom, in countless accidental conversations in grocery checkout lanes — to name a few. By God’s grace, holding sacred space is holy work that we get to do, often with no walls or doors at all.

May every pastor’s study be sacred space, full of God’s wisdom and grace, where all are protected and respected.

As for me and my pastor study, a glass door. Please.

2 thoughts on “A Glass Door for this Pastor’s Study, Please

  1. Well and beautifully said. I am still shocked that no all pastor’s doors have at least a window in the door. Thank you.

  2. When I arrived at my current church, I pulled down the curtain that covered the floor-to-ceiling window next to the door. Now anyone can see in. It’s a good thing.

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