How many Christians are aware of the passage in the New Testament,
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (ESV, Hebrews 13:17)? Okay, forget about how many. What about you? Were you aware of that verse? If you were aware, have you given it much thought?
When searching for a publisher for The Perfect Pastor? one major publishing house said that “You won’t find anyone who would give you a nanosecond of a New York minute to read about (the life and work of) pastors.” Sad, but apparently true.
Pastors are definitely called to serve in Christ’s local church. One aspect of that servitude is an attitude or response to these servants that often come with the calling. That attitude or response that is not dissimilar to how things are perceived: You must be there when I need you. Until then I don’t think much about you. And I certainly do not need to be concerned about your joy.
The latest studies reveal that thousands of pastor leave their churches every month. And hundreds of those pastors leave the ministry altogether. The average duration of a pastor in full-time, remunerative ministry is five years. And it’s 13-18 months for the youth minister. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest reasons is the lack of hope. The lack of hope that perhaps his gifts are of value, that his work and service is meaningful and purposeful, and that he is appreciated as a person and as a pastor. It is rare to find a pastor who really has a deep sense that he is appreciated or is wanted.
Now, my objective here is not to evaluate the above statements. Rather, my concern has to do with the fact that there are responsibilities God has called the church to with regard to their pastor(s). One of which has to do with seeing to it that the church lets them serve as overseers and shepherds with joy!
A previous blog speaks to how to encourage your pastor. I want to suggest typical ways people and churches discourage their pastor, how they rob their pastor(s) of joy. Here is an incomplete list:
1. Treat him as if he is the messiah, expecting him to save your life.
2. Reject him when he doesn’t save the day.
3. Demand that he meet your so-called needs and your personal desires.
4. Be angry or disappointed when he does not do what you want him to do.
5. Be angry or disappointed when he does not do what you have told him to do.
6. Be angry or disappointed when his family does not meet your approval.
7. Be angry or disappointed when his family does not meet your expectations.
8. Be rude toward his wife.
9. Be rude toward his children.
10. Be critical about his wife and/or children.
11. Be critical toward his wife and/or children.
12.Expect his wife to be better and more perfect than other women in the church.
13. Expect his children to be better and more perfect than you expect your own.
14. Find ways to drain the life out of his wife and/or children.
15. Shun his wife and/or his children.
16. Impose nonbiblical legalisms on him, his wife and his children.
17.Do not allow his wife to develop friendships within the church.
18. Do not allow his wife to develop her own set of friends.
19. Complain about him to his wife.
20. Complain about him to his children.
21. Have selfish, ungodly, nonbiblical or unbiblical expectations of him.
22.Tell him how to dress (explicitly or by subtle criticisms).
23. Tell him what to eat or not eat.
24. Show little or no love for him.
25. Work him to death.
26. Add nonbiblical or unbiblical requirements to his job description.
27. Add your own expectations to the list of things he does.
28. Pressure him to be performance oriented, focusing on things rather than upon people or God.
29. Do not give him time to do the things required and mandated by God and God’s Word.
30. Keep him over-busy. Drain the life out of him.
31. Tell him you believe he is doing enough, but then give him more things to do.
32. Tell him how your previous pastor(s) was better at doing things than he is.
33. Tell him how your previous pastor(s) was better at being a pastor or a godly man.
34. Show disrespect for him. Dishonor his role and position.
35. Expect him to be your close friend.
36. Do not allow him or his family the freedom to develop their own personal and private lives.
37. Refuse to listen to his biblical and godly counsel.
38. Refuse to follow his biblically informed vision.
39. Reject or refuse to support his biblically informed mission.
40. Show disloyalty to him.
41. Often compare him to other pastors, preachers and teachers.
42. Come to him with articles, books, DVDs or other materials to show him how he is to think and be like those other “good” men.
43. Be bored with or unsupportive of his teaching.
44. Sleep often during the sermons.
45. Tell him or others how much you appreciate other teachers, but never tell him you appreciate him.
46. Tell him or others how much you like to listen to other pastors (especially the popular ones), but do not really care to hear your own pastor.
47. Take as much from him as possible and never or rarely give back to him (and his family).
48. Rarely or never use your spiritual gifts to serve him or help him grow or to bless him.
49. Tell him how to preach.
50. Tell him how to teach.
51. Tell him how to lead.
52. Tell him how to counsel.
53. Tell him how to evangelize.
54. Tell him who to evangelize.
55. Tell him how to pray.
56. Imply or tell him he is not doing enough.
57. Imply or tell him he is not doing the right things.
58. Imply or tell him he is not doing things right.
59. Criticize the worship.
60. Argue with him in meetings.
61. Cut him down in front of others in the church.
62. Complain about the fellowship in the church, and expect him to fix all the problems.
63. Grumble about the numerical growth or lack thereof.
64. Tell him how to spend his time, even his spare time.
65. Resist his desire to disciple you.
66. Resist his biblical admonition, counsel or rebuke.
67. Don’t allow him to have spare time.
68. Call him on his vacation time.
69. Don’t give him vacation time.
70. Give him little vacation time.
71. Never give him a sabbatical, even if he has been at church for many years.
72. Do not pay him a decent salary (which ought to be the average or mean income of the church membership)
73. Interrupt his prayer time to satisfy your wants.
74. Interrupt his study time to satisfy your wants.
75. Restrict or find ways to keep him from growing mentally.
76. Restrict or find ways to keep him from growing spiritually.
77. Do not support or encourage his desire to do continuing education (at conferences, school or seminary).
78. Restrict or find ways to keep him from having fellowship with others who can build him up.
79. Lie about him.
80. Use the truth to slander him and his reputation.
81. Help to spread rumors about him.
82. Gossip and complain about him.
83. Be more favorable toward the assistant, associate, intern or youth minister than toward him.
84. Find ways to put division between him and the assistant, associate, intern or youth minister.
85. Tell him or others how much you wish he was like a previous pastor or your favorite pastor or one of the big named and popular pastor.
86. Complain to him regularly.
87. Rarely or never be kind to him.
88. Reject his kindnesses.
89. Be intentionally inconsiderate.
90. Be rude to him.
91. Embarrass him.
92. Make fun of him.
93. Be angry with him. Show anger, resentment and hostility toward him.
94. Keep a running account of all the negative, wrong or sinful things he has said or done.
95. Rejoice when something bad happens to him.
96. Rarely or never put on a best construct regarding him, his life and work.
97. Be impatient with him.
98. Expect him to be hospitable, while you are rarely or never hospitable.
99. Be critical of his wife.
100. Expect his wife to be a second pastor.
101. Impose unbiblical expectations upon his wife (she “must” be the pianist, music leader, Bible study teacher, nursery worker, etc.)or upon his children.
In other words, do all that you can to rob him of the joy God wants him to have in his service to God and God’s people. Rob him of the encouragement God tells you to give him. Steal love that you owe him through Christ; instead suck the life out of him.
© D. Thomas Owsley 2011