We don’t always realize it when we hurt people, do we?
Sometimes, I’ll say a one-liner to my wife with no intention of hurting her. But somehow, it happens. If communicated during the wrong time, in the wrong manner, or with the wrong tone, it’s understandable that she can easily receive my words as death threats instead of love.
And you know what’s the worst part about these moments? Typically, when she expresses to me that I’ve hurt her, I strap on my armor and prepare for The War of the Saldaña’s Living Room (or cab of our ’92 Toyota pickup). Rather than being quick to listen and slow to speak, get angry and self-defensive as James encourages us to do (1:19), I draw my sword and raise my shield.
That is why I fear unveiling these thoughts and feelings with you. I don’t want Christians to immediately grab their sword and shield in defense of the way that they treat their pastors. But concealing them from you scares me even more.
No, not all of these have been nor are personal to me. However, I am friends with and have met many pastors who deal with many, if not all, of these issues. For the greater good of the church, I cannot keep my words to myself.
Tips on How to Kill Your Pastor
Christians: be careful not to kill your pastors spiritually, emotionally and mentally. You may not realize it but there are many things that you do that are wiping out numerous pastors every single day. If that is your aim, here are ten ways to help you kill your pastor:
- Criticize them. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that our tongue has the power of life and death. Instead of encouraging your pastor who probably works more hours than any other person you know for far less compensation than they deserve, while carrying the mental and emotional burdens of all whom they shepherd, why not use your words to criticize every single thing that they do?
- Expect a lot from them. I recently walked into a position that, to be brief, has countless traditions and habits, some good and some not so good. For many leaders, these expectations can be overbearing, distracting and draining to say the least. I know many in ministry who have found these expectations to be unbearable and spiritually crushing. Instead of just expecting them to preach the bible, make disciples, shepherd and love people, why not quench your pastor’s passion, vision and creativity by expecting that they fill a hole that isn’t their size?
- Demand for them to be Jesus. If they aren’t perfect, crucify them. Oh wait, they did that to our perfect Jesus, too, didn’t they? The bottom line is this: demand them to be a sinless person. If they’re anything short of perfection, get rid of them.
- Publicize your dissatisfactions. I’m pretty sure that James refers to this as gossip but it’s okay; it’ll be our little secret. Tell your kids over dinner. Share it with your friends at the coffee shop. Post it all over their Facebook. Start a small group that meets to discuss the dissatisfaction that each of you have with your pastor. The more people that you get involved, the more your pastor’s leadership will diminish.
- Make them work more hours than there are in a week. Countless early mornings and late nights, ministry meetings and events, retreats and camps. If you can think of any more ways to ensure that your pastor works more hours than the average full-time employee, do it.
- Pay them next to nothing. Require at minimum a bachelor’s and master’s degree from them, acquiring for them at least six figures in debt. Then, offer them a salary package that not only prohibits them from actually living in the city that you’ve asked them to minister in, but also forces them to struggle paying the debt that they accrued for themselves by seeking to meet your educational requirements.
- Don’t give them a mentor. Every leader needs affirmation, development and accountability amongst others. Deprive them of that.
- Withhold grace. If they mess up, don’t treat them the way that God treats us. Scold them. Remind them how jacked up they are. Make sure they never forget their mistakes.
- Steal them from their families. God calls them to be spouses and parents before they are called to be pastors; make sure that their schedule interferes with every possible time that they could interact and spend time with their spouse and family. If they haven’t seen their spouse all week, make sure their calendar is full. If their kid has a soccer game or recital, make sure they’ve got a meeting.
- Disregard their feelings. Yes, they are created in God’s image. Yes, they are your sibling in Christ. But not, you shouldn’t treat them that way. Their feelings should have no value nor consideration when it comes to how you treat your pastor.
Don’t Kill Your Pastor
As noted earlier, we don’t always realize when or how we hurt and bring people down. That’s why it’s important to reflect and assess how we treat one another. Whether you are an elder or a member of a local church, I beg of you to consider how you treat your pastors and assess whether or not you and your church are treating them in any of the ways described above. If you are, 1) ask for forgiveness from them and 2) seek ways that you can serve them, their family and ministry instead of bringing them down. In doing so, you may just save your pastor’s life.
For the record, the above statements in no way are a description of the way that Erin and I are treated at our local church. I serve in and am employed by an amazing church filled with many loving and supporting believers. Yes, every church has their issues but we are very grateful to be a part of and surrounded by the church that God has us at today.
9 thoughts on “How to Kill Your Pastor”
Good stuff. Thanks for sharing this!
Thank you for writing this and for being a voice for pastors. So many are completely blind to the unreasonable expectations they place.
Great post! I think there should be one more: 11. Treat his wife like she doesn’t matter. Like her opinion is not important. Act caring when talking to the pastor, asking how his wife is doing but then ignore her when you see her in church. Treat her with disrespect when she has a request or an issue she would like to discuss.
Great point! That’s a serious issue that I’ve heard a lot of pastors and their wives can face. Congregations don’t always realize the tremendous amount of pressure that is inadvertently placed on the wives.
One of my early pastorates thought the pastor’s wife should be an unpaid staff person. And constantly ran down the previous pastor’s wife who tried to please them. They actually asked when my wife would quit her job! And she made way more money than I did!
Your list is a good start, the three congregations I served as pastor did those and more. The ability of the Church to kill its pastors is very real in my case and ended up with me on disability. I might well never be healthy enough again to go back into the pastorate but doubt I would anyway. Simply put I am not that extreme of a masochist! After nine years of recovery and lots of work I am finding other ways to minister.
Also remember that when the pastor is killed his family likely is as well. While my children, now adults, are good with God they want nothing to do with the church and have a very low opinion of religious people, they have seen way too much!
I really wish my story was a fluke and isolated, however it is all too common.
I appreciated your thoughts. I’m a pastor’s wife, married to a good man of God and I consider it the greatest blessing of my life to serve and be a helpmeet to God’s man. People are truly like “sheep”. They can easily be led astray by their own thoughts, feelings and ideas. We live in a critical society and if people in our congregations are not walking daily under the control of the Holy Spirit of God, they will do all the things you have listed in your well written article. That is how we usually can tell who is walking in a right relationship with God. It is reflected in how they treat and appreciate others…and especially God’s man in their life. As “just the wife” of a pastor, I have noticed that I can be fair game for the critics and gossips. People tend to forget that the pastor and I are one flesh and what may hurt me, does indeed, hurt the pastor too. I love serving God and it is easy for me to become a “moving” target. I have also learned in 34 plus years of being a pastor’s wife, that I too, must walk in the Spirit of God each day, or I will be devoured and destroyed by the enemy who is behind the attacks. My response has to be biblical too, or I will hinder my own husband. I remind myself all the time, that I am not greater than my Master. He was perfect. He was despised and rejected of men…yet He went to the cross and paid the price for my own wretchedness. Just that thought alone, overwhelms my soul. I have resolved to keep going, keep loving, keep reaching out…for Jesus’ sake…whether my husband and I are appreciated as we should be or not. Every one of us will reap what we have sown. I always feel more sorry for those who have not learned one of the scriptures greatest lessons…. “Touch not God’s anointed…” It will not go well with them when they set out to be the pastor’s critic or his “Holy Spirit”. My children are grown now and all in church serving the Lord. I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth. I believe that is so because our children never heard us say disparaging things about the people my husband has pastored. Have there been hurtful, questioning things said or done in 34 years? Absolutely yes…many! But what a blessing it is to hear our children bless us today for refraining from speaking venom back on the people! If we are to be Christ-like in our lives, then our faithfulness must be to Christ. People will fail us….it’s inevitable…. Jesus never fails.
Really thank you for your article, it is a great support to us as pastors. Could I translate it to my language Chinese and share it out?
Hey Milton, I apologize for the late response. For some reason, I didn’t see your comment. Yes, you can definitely translate it! I’m glad you were encouraged by the post!