Friday, June 27, 2014

More Ways to Hurt Your Pastor

One of the most popular Christian blogs is Thom Rainer's, the President of Lifeway Christian Resources. Every day he posts stereotypical blogs that are almost always "4 Ways This" or "8 Ways That." Nevertheless, what makes his blog so popular is his intended audience and clear insight. Rainer writes to the church in general and pastors in particular. His recent post Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor is case in point.

Here is his list:
  1. Criticize the pastor’s family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.
  2. Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.
  3. Don’t defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.
  4. Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.
  5. Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you’ve succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.
  6. Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, “How can you afford to go to Disney World?” Wow.
  7. Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.
This is a good summary and I applaud Dr. Rainer for this post. I am a pastor myself and understand firsthand the many struggles and pains a pastor goes through on a daily basis. When Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 that his greatest pain wasn't the countless scars, wounds, and persecutions, but his endless concern for the churches he planted, I can relate.

With that said, I would like to add to Dr. Rainer's list with some thoughts of my own in no particular order.
  1. Talk behind his back. Pastor's expect their members to both model Christ and to contribute to the unity of the church. Oftentimes, however, gossip, anger, bitterness, and backbiting are all-too-common. Someone who complains behind the pastor's back makes the problem worse.
  2. Refuse to open your Bible during the sermon. Say what you want about your pastor's public speaking ability, but he is standing in his pulpit out of a sense of calling and conviction. Every sermon, he believes, is from God not because he is special, but because he seeks to proclaim "thus says the Lord." Refusing to trust his ability to handle the Word of God is a monumental insult.
  3. Do not submit to his leadership. Scripture is clear that pastors are to shepherd their flock and exercise appropriate authority over them. It is also clear that the sheep are to submit to their undershepherd as they submit to Christ. A pastor worth his salt has a vision for the church and a passion to see God's people obeying God's word. Pride and rebellion often stand in the way of that being done.
  4. Fight the wrong enemy. We humans seem to be natural fighters. There is always someone or something we must be against. Unfortunately many churches wrongly think they ought to fight against each other rather than against our real enemy. Contribute to congregational hostility and your pastor will feel hopeless.
  5. Turn the other leaders (elders, deacons, etc.) against him. Pastors must be surrounded by godly men who are as passionate about the local church as he is. Using the elders/deacons of the church as artillery to use against him is ungodly.
  6. Vote on everything. This is related to point #3. A church that votes on every minute thing is a church uncomfortable with submission and unfamiliar with leadership.
  7. Have sporadic attendance. Some of the pastors greatest critics are those who rarely attend. Pastors pour their hearts out for the local church. It is heartbreaking to see so many with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
  8. Don't Volunteer or serve. Regardless of the size of the church, no pastor can do it all nor does Scripture expect him to. Too many churches have too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
  9. Be insensitive to his finances. Most pastors are poor and have surrendered financial security in order to serve Christ. Serve him by taking an active role in getting him a raise or serve him in a way that would help him financially.
  10. Be high maintenance. The pastor is responsible for every member of the church. Some selfishly demand more time and maintenance from the pastor often to no effect. Be sensitive to his schedule and demands. Serve him as he seeks to serve Christ.
  11. Refuse to model Christ. The best way to serve your pastor is to model Christ. The best way to hurt your pastor is to remain stagnant or grow cold.
No doubt more ways could be shared, but this should suffice. Ultimately Christians should go out of their way to serve one another in a way that models their Savior. If we do, such posts would become obsolete.

A cursory study of history will reveal an all-too-common struggle among pastors with depression. The reason for this is not because pastors are weak or cowardly, but because they have been entrusted with a calling that is overwhelming. We will all stand on the day of judgment and give an account for Christ's church. That is a daunting task. Add to that countless members who come and go insensitive to Christ or his undershepherds makes the task all the more difficult.
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