If you’re in pastoral ministry; teaching the bible, meeting up with people, etc., you start to loom large in people’s eyes. And that’s not bad per se. It’s partly how God has made humans. But it requires some important caveats.
If you ask people a question, especially a personal question about sin or their personal struggles, they will feel obliged to tell you – even if they don’t really want to. They will feel more obliged to tell you (their pastor) than someone else.
Now, on one hand, that’s simply their problem. They “should” know that you’re not their priest, and they don’t need confess to you if they don’t want to. Jesus is their Lord, and you’re just a brother or sister, offering a chance to talk – that they don’t have to take up if they don’t want to.
And that’s the key… You (as their pastor) know they don’t HAVE to answer to you, confess to you, share their struggles with you. But do they know that?!? Have you pastored them to know that? Maybe not?
So do still ask those hard questions (because they’re good questions to ask), but be humble enough to also say, “Don’t tell me if you don’t want to”.
Help them to make the decision themselves, not just let you make it for them.