How to be disappointed in your pastor (Reasons 1-10)

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (I Timothy 5:17).

The first step toward running a pastor off or leaving the church in search of a better preacher is rejecting the one you have.

We have some pointers on how to do that.

Not that some people need a recipe for finding shortcomings with God’s shepherds. Fault-finders will always find a way. But just in case anyone out there in churchland has been wondering how they could justify rejecting their pastors (to themselves at least), we have the blueprint….

1) Expect the pastor to read your mind.

“You know we always have our meeting on the first Tuesday of September, Pastor. Why did you schedule that revival then?”

“It’s true I didn’t tell you when I was going into the hospital, but you’re the pastor of the church. You ought to know these things!”

When I hear people rejecting their pastor because “He should have known” something that he did not know, I try to calm my anger before saying as gently and firmly as possible, “What planet do you live on, friend? If you think he ought to know something, tell him! Otherwise, grow up.”

If you want him to know something, tell him.

2) Expect the pastor to meet your needs.

“We used to go to that church, but we weren’t having our needs met.”

“I’m just not getting all out of the sermon I should. And if you’re not, whose fault is that? The preacher’s, of course.”

When I hear people saying their pastor did not meet their needs, I tell them, “One of the biggest mistakes church people make is expecting the pastor to be to them what only Jesus Christ can be. Only He can meet your needs.”

Loosen up and cut him some slack.

3) Expect the pastor to please everyone in the congregation.

“Preacher, a lot of people in the church are unhappy with your leadership.  Who are they? Oh, just a lot of people. I’m not at liberty to name names. But you have disappointed them and have not been what we needed in a shepherd.”

When I hear the preacher slammed because some groups in the church are unhappy with him, I answer, “He’s not supposed to make you happy.  God sent him to make you holy and healthy and to make God happy!”

If the Lord uses the pastor to preach the whole truth, you will be in the crosshairs of the preaching often.  Take that as a sign the Lord loves you, since “He chastens those He loves” (Proverbs 3:12).

4) Expect the pastor to always be there for you.

“We had a crisis in our family and the pastor was in the Holy Land. We will never get over not having our pastor with us during our time of grief.”

“Can you believe he missed my retirement party to attend his child’s baseball game? There will be plenty of games he can attend, but I will retire only one time in my life.”

When I hear people criticize the pastor because “He wasn’t there for me,” my response is, “Get real, friend. This is the kingdom of God, not the Jerry Springer Show!”

Again, cut him some slack. He’s only one person.

5) Expect the pastor to be different from normal people.

“I know you’re tired this Sunday afternoon, pastor, and I didn’t want to bother you with this, but then I thought, you’re the pastor, God gives you extra strength to handle things like this.”

“Our committee decided you don’t need a new car, pastor, so we’re cutting your automobile expense for the next year.  No one cares what your old car looks like, least of all someone godly like you. Right?”

When I hear people say they expect the pastor to be superhuman, my response is, “And where did you find that in Scripture?”

Underneath his Clark Kent persona, the pastor is still Clark Kent. Sorry if that disappoints you.

6) Expect the pastor to be sinless.

“I was shocked the way he told that deacon off!  All Mr. Crenshaw was doing was venting his frustrations about the church budget, the way he does every year about this time. But you should have heard what the pastor said to him. Shocking! I didn’t know men of God had tempers.”

“We left that church when the pastor actually said in a sermon that he was tempted to look lustfully at some women.  That did it for me, and my wife was shocked.  She was never able to look at him the same way again after that.”

When I hear people criticize their pastor for not being without sin, my response is, “Oh good. Then he’s normal.” And I show them Psalm 103:14.

Give thanks your pastor understands what you struggle with, since chances are he does too. (Or has, at one time.)

7) Expect the pastor to do nothing without the approval of the congregation.

“Who told you to turn the fellowship hall into a distribution center for the community?” Pastor Todd had rallied his members following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to minister to hundreds of displaced and hurting people of their community.  The fellowship hall was stacked high with emergency supplies received from churches across America.  When an irate member demanded to know when the congregation voted to do this, a weary Todd smiled and said, “No one told me. It’s a no-brainer,” and went on about his business.

When I hear people criticize the pastor for doing something not voted on by the church, my response is, “Show me in the Scripture where the ‘Overseer of the church’–that’s Acts 20:28–is supposed to ask the congregation every time he needs to go to the bathroom.”

A great rule for a church is: Select good leaders and then get out of their way and let them do their jobs.

8) Expect the pastor to live within the income the church provides, no matter how small.

“You should set the example for the membership, pastor.  There is so much greed and worldliness in our culture. People would be upset to know their pastor is not above that.”

“We knew your wife wouldn’t mind if we diverted the money we allocated to renovate the kitchen in the pastor’s home to the new beds in the church nursery.  First things first, you know.”

When I hear the church does not want to pay the pastor a living wage, my response is: Could you live on what the church pays him?

We honor the Lord when we take good care of the servants He sends us.

9) Expect the pastor to be a perfect fit for your congregation.

“The youth haven’t been able to connect with the pastor’s sermons. And he doesn’t seem to be able to talk to the old people.”

“He’s too country for our people.  I know he has those degrees, but he has that country whang in his speech and he drives a pickup truck. Our people are more sophisticated than that.”

When I hear someone complain that the pastor is not a good match for their church, my response is: “Maybe the Lord is trying to change you.”

Usually the criticism that “he is not a good fit for us” means simply that someone in power within the congregation is unhappy with him. The leadership should stand up for their pastor.

10) Expect the pastor to be on call 24/7.

“I could not believe that the pastor did not answer his phone, but let it go to the answering machine! I needed him then, not at 8 o’clock the next day.”

“I know we have these other ministers on staff, but when I am sick I want to see my pastor, not one of his flunkies!”

When I hear someone rebuking their pastor because he expected to have a normal home life and get a full night’s rest, I go away shaking my head.  There is little hope for that kind of person.

I love hearing that my pastor takes his off days and guards them as a time with his wife.  But that only works when the leadership agrees with it. (They do, I’m glad to report.)

(Note: Reasons 11-20 follow in the next article)

33 thoughts on “How to be disappointed in your pastor (Reasons 1-10)

  1. As an elder in my non denominational church, I couldn’t agree with you more. I hear complaints and my answer is put yourself in his place for 24 hours. This usually shuts them up.

  2. I am so tired of reading posts that transfer the blame for failing churches from pastors to the members. If you have been in the ministry for more than 5 minutes it becomes overtly obvious that there will be problems!

    Those who shepherd well know it is the price they will pay and it often outweighs the gain, but to do anything else would betray their calling and deprive those who hunger for the Word of God. Shepherds will always fall short when they cannot discern between a calling and a burden.

    If you are a shepherd, you are in for the battle of your life. Nothing will come easy, enemies with outnumber allies and ground beneath your feet will be continually shifting like sand. Nothing is more difficult than leading!

    You maybe threatened with law suits and have your reputation tarnished by others within the church. The cost of leading will become like trench warfare; slow and insidious attrition. Never fear! You will stumble on mountaintop experiences in the process of being a shepherd, moments that will come from remaining steadfast despite the apparent absurdity and incredible personal cost.

    I have no regrets. I do have much grief and brokenness to show for the effort. The bottom line is simple: it will be in the extremity that you come to terms with yourself, but more importantly…with God our Father who has written your life. It is through these trials that I have come to know the greatest need for a deep, personal and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.

    Being a shepherd is the most costly thing you will ever do. It will never bring you fame or riches or praise equal to your sacrifices. But if you love God and others and you hunger to live your life now for the sake of eternity, then there is nothing better than being a gentle shepherd.

    To the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining committed members within the congregation. The surest gain will come from being honest about failure.

    If you lack the capacity to confess how much you have messed up, the result will be a church that becomes more cowardly and members who will grow more self-committed, more closed to you and to one another. They will look out for themselves, not for you, the church or their brethren.

    The truth about open confession is that it does not lead to weakness and disrespect; conversely, it transforms the shepherd’s character and earns him greater respect. The paradox of leading: to the degree you attempt to hide or disavow your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose…prompting the ultimate departure of the best people. The dark cycle of spin control leads to people’s cynicism and mistrust.

    Stop blaming everyone and everything else! If God really called you, and you not simply a graduate who was looking for a job, then you are totally responsible for those for are leading. It is always easier to blame someone or something else for our failures.

    • Dave, I think you misunderstood the article. There was no shifting blame for failure in this article. Pastors know going in that people are people and will do all these things mentioned. Just because the pastor is called by God does not mean that the people’s bad behavior is to be ignored or condoned. Everyone in the body, minister and laypeople need to work together to treat each other the way they want to be treated; to speak the truth in LOVE to one another and to extend grace to each other. This article points out ways that the people in the body misunderstand the calling of the pastor and are selfish. I’m sure there are pastors that are selfish too. The point of this article was to deal with the people’s behavior. This is entirely a scriptural approach, read 1 and 2 Corinthians for Paul’s rebukes of the people’s behavior in Corinth. There’s enough blame for failure to go around!

      • In the same respect, pastors have a tendency to shoulder the responsibility of “church failure” even though members don’t take the time to actively participate in the process of growth. If the church grows or fails to on the strength of the pastor alone, is the church really the church?

        I, for one, enjoyed your original article, Joe. Keep spotlighting the church (and her pastors) in your unique way–it makes us think.

    • So Dave, Did Jesus fail when He called Judas? How about all the other followers who walked away from Jesus even at the hight of ministry… Different people are given different callings… and the Holy Spirit counsels them on how and who they are to lead… I pastor a very small church that has a tremendous ministry in our community, and even though our congregation is very small, we see God working miracles, and I mean real miracles almost every week… Yet, He has not chosen to fill our pews on Sunday mornings… Is His work here failing? I think not my friend.

  3. Well said Dave. All to often I have seen the Pastors ignore the main rules.
    I Timothy 3
    1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
    2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    ( Not one more interested in the ball game. Not a divorced man. Paying attention to the flock he oversees. No alcholics. Doesn’t stir strife or act with cruelty. Brings people in and feeds them instead of having members feed him. Willing to set down and show in the Bible where his claims are verified by scripture.)
    3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
    4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
    7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
    ( All to often pastors ignore heresies that are sent in from the outside, such as evolution and long age time. Willing to go back and show in Genesis 1 : 1-5 that God created on the first day space, matter, energy and set time in motion.
    Acceptance of homosexuality in defiance of the plain words of Christ, Matthew 19:4:
    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    5 “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”
    6 “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
    7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
    8 He saith unto them, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”
    9 “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” )

    • Donald and Dave,

      Don’t forget the pride of thinking that he is blameless to begin with, which then only proves that he is a novice.

      This article says nothing about blame shifting or being ignorant of what a pastor faces in the ministry. Maybe read the opening verse of 1 Timothy 5:17 and consider posting something that deals with the verse, and the context of the article.

      • I get the impression, Peter, that some people come to such articles already upset at someone or something and these things trigger negative reactions all out of proportion to what was said. I’m okay with leaving their comments up here, but I’m not really happy about them. Thanks for your response and to others for yours.

        • I believe your impression is right preacher…too bad…oh the blessings that can be had as we walk free of such unbecoming behaviour.

    • I see we have added much more than even a jot or tittle in verse two haven’t we…? I would like to see a blog titled “Can a Pastor be forgiven”? I mean, Just because Jesus forgave Peter, that doesn’t say that we have to forgive a pastor because his wife left him does it? ( By the way, no divorce here, we have been married nearly 38 years…)

  4. Just glad that these type of comments only reflect a small percentage of the body of Christ ….even if they are a “vocal small percentage”. I’m grateful for my pastor-husband …and for the church member who posted this article Even though there are some negatives that come with ministry, there’re are positive, kind, supportive church member’s who breath wind in our sails.

    • Susan, a friend of mine said his father told him (and his 2 preacher brothers), “Boys, the Lord has put a delicate balance in his church. He has put just enough headstrong ornery people to keep you the preacher humble, and just enough sweet godly saints to keep you from quitting.” He said he found both groups in every church he ever served.

      • Joe, love your insights. This comment is about the delicate balance you mentioned between headstrong ornery people and sweet godly saints. It is so rewarding to determine in your heart to be an encouragement to your pastor. Look for ways to support him, and be prepared to sacrifice your own popularity among his critics by speaking up for him and watching his back. It’s treacherous territory, though, not safe from lies, attacks, and abuse being heaped on you, as well! But, the rewards from God far outweigh the abuse from men. Keep posting, my friend!

  5. If you have never been a Pastor you will never know the burden, Not a Pastor by vocation but rather, a Pastor by calling. (BIG DIFFERENCE) The office of the Pastor and the position we take, should lead us to the feet of the people that God has given us to serve. The office of Pastor is no more or less important than those they serve! If a church struggles, the whole body should come together to resolve the conflict. As far as voting churches and voting on Pastors I am not so sure you can find scripture for that. The word say the powers to be are ordained of God. Pastors are sent by God not voted on by a board that may be carnal as they can be. God exalts and God abases. Attitudes come from carnality which is not pleasing to God! Lots of attitude in some of these responses. Be blessed in Jesus name!

    • Mark, you might want to explore the definition of “vocation.” It is actually almost identical to, and usually has as a synonym, “calling.” Although it is certainly true that people misuse it.

      • Chris, I have to respectfully disagree. Throughout the Bible there is example after example after example that a “Calling” is most definitely different than a “Vocation”.

        One of the most well known examples of a “Calling” is when the Prophet Samuel under GOD’s instruction went and found David the little shepherd boy that was attending to his fathers sheep and anointed him with oil making the declaration that this simple shepherd boy would be King of Israel. (Calling)

        Another example of a “Calling” from the Old Testament is the account of Moses. Moses had just killed an Egyptian task master for ruthlessly beating a slave, Moses ran into the wilderness where GOD appeared to him in a burning bush. GOD instructed Moses in what his “Calling” was and that was a leader to His people, a shepherd, a pastor. Moses in his “Calling” delivered a message unto Pharaoh, “Let My people go.”

        Then in the New Testament, the last example that I will give is when Saul was on the road to Damascus, working in his vocation, was knocked off his horse and blinded by the brilliance of the Light of heaven. Saul was not one that was in pursuit of GOD but GOD was in pursuit of him:

        “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do ? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink . And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is A CHOSEN VESSEL unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake. (Acts 9:3-16)

        The examples I gave you are only three of many example of what a “Calling” is according to the Bible and the Scripture that is within the Bible. There are also many examples of a “Vocation” also such as in all the letters to the churches that Paul wrote, along with the Words of Jesus describing the Scribes and Pharisees. In a calling, GOD will pursue those that He has called unto they relent and accept the “Calling”. On the other hand one that seeks ministry as a “vocation” (a job) is only doing it of their own will and for their own gain. Most of those will tell you they are just doing what Jesus instructed them to do according to Mark 16:15, ” And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

        Those that have went out with the mere intention of pure personal gain are the ones that I consider ministers of “Vocation” not ministers of the “Calling”.

        In closing, Joe, I liked what you wrote, it was insightful and was considerate with words of GOD’s Wisdom and Understanding. The Lord has put this on my heart to remind those that would scoff at those that Love the Lord and those that the Lord has “Called” as shepherds for HIS Flock:

        “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9 NKJV)

        Bishop JD Sparks
        Touching Heaven Ministries

  6. Whew!
    Don and Dave,
    Folks like you with the holy attitudes and the condemning stares are the essence of being a Pharisee.
    Kinda reminds me of the story about he one who said “Lord I am glad I am not like this man. I pay my tithe and I do this and I do that. ”
    I wonder would Jesus would agree with condemning and condescending attitudes? Probably not.

  7. I certainly agree with you Joe. Although I will say that, depending on the preacher/pastor, some tend to lead more one sided. Meaning they tend to have their favorite parishioners whom they will lend that extra ear and time to, leaving a lot of the rest of their congregation feeling not quite as important when they truly need him. Yes, the point is to call on God when in time of need; however, it is usually good to know that your spiritual leader is there to lend some spiritual guidance when it is needed. But I do understand that the flock has to understand also that the leader is also human, and must be seen a man also. I believe there are some pastors/preachers out there who do unfortunately take advantage of the position though. Which in turn gives the ones who do try and do take care of their congregations a bad name, you know, putting them in a bad light per say. Thank you for making your points. Keep up what your doing. I agree. :)

  8. As a pastor for almost 30 yrs. I really appreciated your article. And unfortunately I’ve had to deal with all 10. Keep up the good work my Brother!

  9. Joe
    Excellent article brother. Thank you. We who are church members need to support our pastors. The first thing we need to do every day is pray fir them. They have one of the toughest jobs in the world. I spent a week with my previous pastor shadowing him to see what he does. I was totally shocked after day 2. People only think they know what he does. My eyes were opened big time. I didnt know till then how mean Gods people could be to “their leader” and inconsiderate. I also saw tremendous love from other members that others didnt know about. Eventually, after 9 years, the toll on my pastors family led him to leave. The discouragement he felt was just too overwhelming. His wife was disrespected, not by all, but the few who did were consistent. He was not “well liked” by all because he stepped on folks toes- he held people accountable for unrighteous behavior and attitudes. Folks dont like it when you do that.
    To Don- my brother in Christ- I lovingly point out that you are wrong in saying that 1 Tim 3:2 says the overseer must not be divorced- it does not say that- it says ” must be the husband of one wife”. There is a BIG difference between being married to multiple wives and being divorced. The bible does use the word divorce and God very clearly did not use that word here. What was common in the day this was written was polygamy. The writer was making the point that you can not be married to 2 or more people AND be an overseer in the church. The scriptural words are very clear. Man has added his meaning to this by way of bad interpretation. If God did not want a divorced man to be a leader in the church He would have said ” an overseer can not be a divorced person”. Aside from the scriptural command, we can certainly understand from a human perspective that having one wife to lead and love is a full time position and is hard enough to be a leader in the church with one wife- i cant imagine having more than one and trying to do anything else.

  10. As a pastors wife i love this!! I protect my husbands days off and take control of our calendar some weeks when i know he needs me to. Its not easy and people don’t love it when i answer his phone on his day off and ask if it is life threatening or can wait till tomorrow, but balance is so important and i think its sometimes how God gives us that supernatural strength we need some weeks!! Love your writing!!

    • God bless you Jenny for your sacrifice and service to the Body of Christ. May God continue to shower you and your family with blessings for your faithfulness and willingness to give of yourself to support the work your husband is called to do.

  11. Pingback: How to be disappointed in your pastor (Reasons 1-10) | Footsteps In The Deep

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