Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Why Do Pastors Leave the Ministry?
Scott Williams is a pastor who is no longer pastoring. Recently on his blog, he wrote an essay on leaving the ministry… below is a sampling of what he wrote…
“many people have asked me why i am stepping out of pastoring, at least for a while. there has been a great deal of conjecture on my behalf. some think it has a subversive twist to it. others imagine that i am absolutely distraught with life and cannot cope anymore. neither extreme really addresses the central issues i have faced. here are a few of the reasons why some of us tend to fade away:
we are tired of pretending that we cannot be hurt. people assume ministers are available for their criticism 24/7. people say things to clergy they would not say to their worst enemies. for some reason they feel at liberty to delve into every aspect of clergy life. they have an opinion about everything we do. they believe it is their god-given right to critique your personal life, your professional life, your emotional state, the way you dress, your use of colloquialisms, your kids, your personality, how much you spend on a car, your friendships, how you drive, how much you fart, the list goes on and on. pastors live their life in the limelight. they, therefore, constantly disappoint people. it is hard to disappoint people all the time. as a pastor, and maybe it is just me, i seem to let people down all the time. recently i was at a small group where several complained that i was not their close friend. besides the obvious fact that i do not have enough hours in the day nor the emotional energy to be friends with everyone, let alone friendly, how can you assume i would would want to be your close friend? ministers spend their entire life pretending to like a portion of the population that they really cannot stand…
pastors tend to build up that insecurity the longer they work. they feel the pressure to put numbers on the role, they also realize that people leave the church because of them. that is a heady responsibility to bear. they understand that people don't like them but it still hurts when they have people they have invested in leave the church because of them. this life can be an exercise in guilty and humility. everything that happens which is good is "to god be the glory" ...they know who is to blame if things go bad. add to this that for some reason many churches rise and fall on the health and exuberance of their pastor. after a while pastors tend to jump from one quick fix solution to another in a desperate bid to patch holes that are systemic and often metaphysical. they attend conferences and clinics designed to point out their flaws and obvious solutions. they quickly conclude that they are the problem, the issue, and the solution. they develop a messiah complex. they develop an insecurity complex…
ministers are normal people who struggle with laziness and workaholism at the same time. no one knows what they do during the week so they tend to strive too hard to be noticed or duck out when they can get away with it. they realize that some volunteers do more than they do and it drives them crazy. they vassalate between the drive to do everything and the need to let others do the work of the church. they are control freaks, often out of necessity. sometimes out of ego need.
oh ya, and we love to be compared. compared to huge churches with massive budgets and incredible bands. compared to tv evangelists who spend more on dog food than we will see in a year. compared to amazing speakers, incredible entrepeneurs, and holy monkish nerds who can pray more than we can. that kind of stuff makes us very content.
ya this is a whine but it's my blog and you don't have to read it. perhaps, though, there may be a grain of truth in what you have read. take a look at your pastor if you have one. listen to his or her brokenness strewn in amongst the exterior confidence. let them know you don't need anything from them. shut up about them when others encourage you to spill. tell someone else to shut up occasionally. don't phone them on mondays. don't critique the way they dress when they go to the bank on their day off. don't act amazed when they stumble. we all stumble.
but for God's sake, don't feel sorry for them. they chose this life and it has incredible rewards. just pay them more.
and oh ya, they won't believe you when you praise them but they will obsess when you criticize them. sounds like quite a great life huh? makes you want to join right up i bet...
as for me, i'm just taking a break to get out of the fishbowl for a while. it's a calling - a blessing and a curse. of course now i have to get a real job where people have to get up every morning and put in 8 hours and pretend to care about stuff i never imagined caring about before.”
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Wow, has he been reading my diary?
Posted by: Pastor Al | Apr 19, 2005 9:53:20 AM
Is his blog down or is there an error in the link to his blog? When I click the link in the post, there is no site there. I loved the excerpt and would love to read more from him first hand.
Posted by: Jim Walton | Apr 19, 2005 10:51:24 AM
I wish more people would have access to the book, "Shoulder to Shoulder , Strengthening Your Church by Supporting Your Pastor",by Dan Reiland. I know some churches have classes for people before they join the church in order for them to understand the basic tenets of faith. Perhaps they could add this to their list of recommended reading so people would understand and be able to be supportive of their pastors. So many people love their pastors and appreciate what they have done and are doing, don't let a few misguided souls keep you from helping those who really need you.You are the Lord's beloved and He will take care of and reward those who are faithful.God bless you!
Posted by: LD | Apr 19, 2005 11:25:03 AM
I checked the URL... it is correct... his website must be down temporarily.
Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Apr 19, 2005 11:37:24 AM
"For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fool for Christ,..." 1 Cor. 4:9-10
I feel like this sometimes as well, but what an honor to serve the Lord and His people. I would have it no other way, so I suppose I will remain a fool.
Posted by: Jade | Apr 19, 2005 11:39:58 AM
I have thought of leaving, but not for the reasons stated by Scott. Every pastor is tempted by greener pastures. Criticism comes with the territory. Any time you stick your head above the crowd you are an easy target. You will find the politicking in the secular office more irritating because it is not defined by any principles. Learn to deal with it and love your people and they cannot help but reciprocate.
I have pastored the same church for 23 years and our people love me and do many things to show their appreciation. I have it too good to leave...but think they might benefit from new blood...
Posted by: Steve M | Apr 19, 2005 2:18:20 PM
Much of what Scott says is realistic. I've been in the ministry for almost 37 years. There are days when I walk to my car, and I say, "It doesn't get any better than this." Then there are days I am counting toward my retirement. My guess is that people in just about every profession have their good days and their bad days. Over all, I can't believe that God would choose me (out of the billions of people on the earth) to lead people to love and serve Him.
Posted by: Dave | Apr 19, 2005 2:18:24 PM
I don't even know where to begin. I hear the pain, and understand it personally. I left because I couldn't please anyone anymore without dealing with the pain of my past. I am taking time away to heal. No where is it more true than in the church that we shoot our wounded. It is ok to put on the face and be brave and strong, to not have family difficulties, and to look like there is nothing going on in life that would be considered to be sin. A church member falls, we as pastors do everything we can tohelp that person. We search for jobs, take meals, find money, pray and counsel. But, let a pastor fall, and it turns into a feeding frenzy, the pastor being the bait for the congregation.
It is time for the church to wake up, and to get honest.
Posted by: Dusty | Apr 19, 2005 2:19:12 PM
Thanks for the honesty and for sharing your heart in a personal, thoughtful way. I retired from ministry at age 37 after planting a church, watching it grow to 2,000+ adults in four years, and then blowing out my life due to a moral failure.
And then God did the unthinkable. He restored my wife and family, gave me the stength to walk through a two year restoration process that ended in a new 'fit for ministry' declaration, and yet didn't put me back into a role at a church.
He did put into a my life a number of men that are daring to the impossible. These are men who are leaving (or being fired from) ministry roles at churches and are having to find creative ways to financially provide for their families.
We are beginning to really walk together around the Person of Jesus and simply love one another. We are also beginning to invest our lives into a few men that Jesus has brought into our lives and doing the same thing with them. We call it an Acts 29 experience - watching Jesus at work in the lives of His people.
And the best part - we're not down on the church. We love the church - she's the bride. We love her people. We feel called to bless and strengthen her people. Problem is, there are many of her people that often don't go to 'church' on the weekend anymore because they're hungry for something real, vulnerable, and transforming. And that doesn't happen for the most part at 'church'. It happens as Jesus gets hold of our lives and teaches us to really love Him and love one another.
So we all still go to 'church' on Sundays, but we use it as a time to orbit and pray that God will bring us to others who are hungry to be agents of change in our world. And we begin to teach and equip people to really walk with Jesus daily, walk with a few others in their life, and then to trust and wait on Jesus for direction and instructions on how to minister in His Name each day.
I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time. I'm not called pastor anymore, but I minister more effectively than maybe ever before.
God's not done with you as you move from being a pastor, maybe He's apprehending you in a fresh new way. Enjoy the ride....
Posted by: Keith Page | Apr 19, 2005 2:21:07 PM
Thanks for being real...after being in and out of fulltime church ministry over the last 20+ years...the words you use to describe the tension is so true.
From experience, one really never looses one's calling or passion...they may just find another forum to express it (it is amazing how God encourages the gifts HE gives us...no matter where you land or choose to land)
Keep the fire for God burning
Posted by: Dave | Apr 19, 2005 2:24:50 PM
Thank you for posting the blogger from Scott Williams. That is pretty much how I feel.
After 30 years of pastoring mainline churches I gave it up last July. I have served non-evangelical churches and was just tired of the continous progressive theology of the superiors and the institution of religion.
I love the Lord and am willing to come back serving a more traditional evangelical church. I am a good pastor and a good preacher. The last congregation where I served grew almost 200 in 6 years during my time there, but then I left and a more liberal pastor came and the spiritual growth that developed during those six years seemingly went down the drain.
God bless you for you service!
Bo L. Lange
Posted by: Bo Lange | Apr 19, 2005 2:25:15 PM
I left the ministry a couple of years ago because of a moral failure. I never really understood the stress that I was under until I left. It was amazing. I love the church and miss the full time ministry. I just wish people were a little kinder and a little more supportive. I have often thought about the book "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. He says that we speak and receive love in 5 ways - 1. Words of affirmation; quality time; acts of service; physical touch; and giving gifts. I think is true of the church with theri preacher. However, to often the church never proclaims love for the preacher...
Posted by: ken | Apr 19, 2005 2:33:09 PM
Man, this is what the church needs. . . transparency and authenticity. Thanks for both because they are refreshing to me. I haven't decided if it's a good idea or not for my church to see and deal with my brokenness--but I make sure they understand that it's there. It's the only way I know how to be. The duality of the fishbowl is too hard for me to live with otherwise.
Posted by: Matt | Apr 19, 2005 2:59:48 PM
yes, Scott's musings are all too real. Not close to home, but home. I struggle with the churches I serve not putting their faith in Jesus, and instead in Jerry. So much of my 20 years of ministry seems to have been for naught, even though showered with platitudes. Out? You bet, God just give me a way to care for my family. Making the invisible mystery's of God real for the flock on a continual basis is my challenge.
Posted by: Jerry | Apr 19, 2005 3:07:56 PM
When I left full-time ministry and took full-time secular employment, my interviewer was a fine Christian man who asked me why I had left the church to get an MBA. I told him, "I guess I expected people to act their best at church, when in fact most of them acted their worst."
They said things there they dared not say to their boss, spouse, parents, or children, and acted too often like immature children. I felt like a paid punching bag. I realized I could probably be more effective and happier as an involved layman than I could be as a minister. And it certianly did away with my stomach problems. In the end, I was right. I have been a happy and active churchman on the other side of the pulpit. Only in the last few years have I gone back to part-time ministry and I'm enjoying it completely. But I can walk away at any moment -- it's not my livelihood. It gives me a freedom to do and say exactly what I think is right and if any one individual doesn't like it...too bad. Maybe that's the whole problem in a nutshell. Too many pastors feel tongue-tied by the fear of losing their job, so they can't bring themselves to call people on the carpet for how they speak and act.
Posted by: Larry | Apr 19, 2005 3:10:23 PM
Yes, people can be mean, and downright ugly, but understand that this is spiritual warfare man! If the religious people persecuted Jesus, do you expect any less? I believe pastors could benefit much by spending MUCH time in the word and prayer, that's what we're called to,and paid for, to have the TIME to effectively hear His voice and be His man to HIS people. I've had plenty of opportunity for hurt in the pastorate, but would not trade this job for anything!
Posted by: glenn gingrich | Apr 19, 2005 3:13:05 PM
Bless the man for his willingness to reveal truth. I recall a Saturday broadcast from a Jewish radio show in NYC, where someone talked about writers. Paraphrasing an old memory: "The only things that merit being written down are the things that nobody can afford to talk about."
I'm just a church music director, but am capable of understanding many of the expressed emotions. An old friend I used to work with used to say this (regarding criticism from a boss): "You don't hesitate to me me when I'm wrong. Why don't you tell me when I'm right?" I think church members would be well-advised to express encouragement to their leaders more intentionally.
Last, consider Robert Frost: "... So when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star ... to stay our minds on, and be staid."
Posted by: Thomas LeFevre | Apr 19, 2005 3:13:27 PM
I am so sorry that there are so many unhappy overworked underapperciated pastors out there! I love my pastors (and their wives!)... and my church! I think they are the greatest! And, I have loved every church I have been a member of! And I have loved the pastors of those churches (and their wives, don't forget their wives, they are so taken for granted! Talk about underapperciated! The wives saccrifice so much, and have to put up with so much!! And they Give so much with so little acknowledgement..)! I have wanted to be involved in some kind of ministry ever since I was a kid... and I grew up Jewish!! The ladies of the synogogue I belonged to were active participants in the workings of the synogogue, and I got to help out a lot growing up!! I am So blessed to have recently married a man that also wants to be involved in ministry. The biggest turn off is when you join a new church, and they automatically want to get you to work in the nursery, as though being a woman automatically means you are going to be gifted with children, rather than making an effort to get to know you and where you are gifted, so you can use those gifts. But, that is so common a misconception in our culture, that it is accepted as a truth even in the church...Oy! LOL. Honestly, I do like kids, but that is not my calling, at least not for now... : ) But, as for burnt out pastors, I can see why they need a break, a chance to do something different, whether it is a sabatical or a career change. : )
Posted by: Felice Burns | Apr 19, 2005 3:15:04 PM
Thank you for being vocal about how many pastors feel inside. My wife and I have been in youth ministry for 7 years and we quit completely in Sept. 2003 because of the frustrations that you described. We had to deal with a lot of anger issues and a lack of desire to even go back to church. Thankfully God is not done with us. He has restore our minds and has called us to minister to those who some how have been wounded by the church. It is remarkable how many people we run into every day. We still love the church and believe that one day we will be as one. It is our goal to help bring restoration and healing to those who are struggling outside of the church body. I am in a Senior management position with a Global IT company and understand how business operates and communication. It just amazes me how all of the professionals that get together for church and forget everything they know about resolving conflict, taking care of employees, and compensating staff for a job well done. My prayer is that the church will open their eyes and see that the Pastor and his family are just like the rest. It hurts me to see Pastor's wives and children suffering because the church demands so much from one man. May the Lord open our eyes to see.
Posted by: Travis | Apr 19, 2005 3:26:37 PM
I just want to say that that is awesome how open and honest Scott was. I am new in the office of pastor, but much of what you said, I've felt myself. It is great to know that I'm not the only one who has similar feelings. My prayer is to focus on God's expectations for my life. I pray that God will continue to give you direction.
Posted by: dorion | Apr 19, 2005 3:26:45 PM
I too have left pastoral vocational ministry a few years ago, and share some similarities. Would be so good if we could just get more honesty, transparency, and vulnerability, as you greatly exemplified, among pastors and their humanity.
Posted by: djchuang | Apr 19, 2005 3:43:58 PM
"ministers spend their entire life pretending to like a portion of the population that they really cannot stand…"
Sounds like a heart problem; no wonder the Pastorial job is grating...
Pastor's have a hard row to hoe. But they aren't the only ones. Regular workers have their own problems. He sees it coming in his last paragraph:
"of course now i have to get a real job where people have to get up every morning and put in 8 hours and pretend to care about stuff i never imagined caring about before.”
Welcome to the real world...
PS: It's great to read some of the comments from Pastor's who are lovin it...
Posted by: bernie dehler | Apr 19, 2005 3:44:58 PM
Having had a brief experience in professional ministry soon after college, I sympathize with the stress created by the double standard in our congregations.
Yes, the people in the church need to learn to encourage and thank as much as they offer their criticism. That would help, but it will not happen over night.
I found that I am just not cut out for pastoring. It is not in my heart. A pastor is someone who loves his church to the level that he acts as Christ's hands for his people. Jesus took a lot of abuse and was betrayed even by his own people. He forgave them. In some cases, he just ignored the criticism. Pastors have to have thick skin toward the silly criticisms otherwise those comments will be used by the enemy to discourage and tear a Pastor down. The best pastors I know are people who are energized by serving their congregation. They aren't superhumans. They do need their rest, but they can't wait to get back with their people after they have had a break.
You also choose who to loose. Stay on course with doing the right thing as well as you can within the strength of God's spirit and if someone else isn't satisfied - so what! They are either with you or against you. They either support you in your struggles or they are against you. Jesus didn't hesitate to make the distinction clear and at the same time showed them bottomless love.
If God has not put it in our hearts to love in that way, then it is not our time to be in pastoral ministry - find something else productive to do for the kingdom while he gets you ready. I don't beleive that people should jump into pastoring just because they have the degree or its the right time in their career track. If you don't have the heart, it will betray you burn you out. Jesus didn't conduct any ministry until he was well into adult hood. Knowing what I know now at 30 years of age, I wouldn't have touched pastoral ministry when I did until I had matured and really had the heart for it.
In a quick conclusion, perhaps the blogger really needs to search his heart and either ignore the sheeps' complaining or tell them what they are doing wrong. Setting the flock straight will quickly tell you who is loyal to you and who is there to just pass their personal guilt on to you.
Posted by: John Loufik | Apr 19, 2005 4:02:57 PM
I hear and understand the pain that you are talking about. As a preacher's kid I have dealt with the kind of criticism and medling first hand most of my life. It ultimately brought my father to the point of moral failure and ultimately divorce from my mother. Now as a full time associate pastor I am beginning to understand what my dad was going through. Unfortunately the stresses of ministry have had a very negative impact on my children. Both are no longer in church.
It leaves me with a lot of questions about my personal calling, my personal effectiveness. I often feel I was a more effective minister before I went into the ministry. My family was definitely more spiritually healthy than now. Ironic isn't it. We pour out to people daily, take daily abuse, struggle with the poilitics of the ministry, cry when we're alone and put on our Sunday smiles, so we can do it all over again. But somehow in the midst of it all God still uses broken vessles like us. You are in my prayers. All of you. I trust you will pray for me and the salvation of my boys as well.
Posted by: Mike | Apr 19, 2005 4:03:04 PM
It pains me to over and over witness the pain of persons trying to serve Christ's church. Anyone who has tried it has had his/her share of the same sort of feelings that Scott expresses.
We all know that there is a calling to rise above the human frailties that are a part of the church and to walk in the heavenly instead. Unfortunately, that, too, sometimes proves a vicious circle for me. I am hurt by what something says or does toward me and my ministry. Then I remind myself of the need to rise above it all and to hear the voice of God. If that, however, is not immediately reassuring or reaffirming, then I start the blame game of "what's wrong with me that I can't rise about this?"
In the end, however, that is my salvation. God calls me to listen to him, to serve as he calls me to the best of my ability, and then to turn the critism, the hatred, or whatever the negative over to him.
Posted by: Shirley | Apr 19, 2005 4:05:17 PM
If one cannot stand the smell of sheep, one has no business being a shepherd. The Pastoral ministry is a calling of God - not a vocation, nor something to be left. Everyone who is considering the pastoral ministry must be made aware of this. In Luke 9:62, Jesus said to a man who asked about following Him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." This should be a stern warning for anyone considering pastoral ministry.
One of the things I desire is that in the western church we will stop thinking that the role of pastor is the only "official" role of the church, and that we would teach our people that everyone is to be a minister for Christ. When we place ungodly reliance, favor and money at the feet of men, they (I) will always fail.
The gentleman who posted the blog, should also seriously evaluate his walk with God. While men are beaten, imprisoned, and stoned to death for preaching the gospel in muslim and communist nations, we ought not to be quitting the ministry because people treated us badly. We ought to be mature enought to expect that a world which hated God's Son enough to torture and murder Him, isn't going to welcome us with open arms.
Any man who seeks a pastorate without a direct command of God is asking for trouble. In America, we have turned the pastorate into a career, which it was never meant to be.
Posted by: Jeff | Apr 19, 2005 4:15:14 PM
I believe we are in a new season in the ministry and the church as well. The new generation of saints need more than the old Pastors can give. The older pastors, for the most part, in the black church have a disconnect with the 30-50 year old saint. This has added frustration and increased ineffectiveness to their ministry that that age group is missing on Sunday morning, Wednesday evening. Most of them receive more from watching Bishop Jakes, Eddie Long, Clarence McClendon, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Paula White than from going to the church on Sunday morning. A lot of Pastor are preaching the same sermons that they preached before because they have not spent any time with God and heard from Him. The reason they are not hearing from Him is because they have ignored Him so long He quit talking! We are not "Super Pastor!" We have spent to much time trying to be "Holier than Thou!" rather than being transparent! When you try to hide you frailties from the flock that is the very thing that Satan will use to crucify you with. Expose yourself before anyone else can...don't believe the HYPE! Take the bullets out of satans gun by exposing ourselves. This is what I have begun doing and teaching young men and women of GOD to do the same thing! I promise you that you will not want to leave the ministry, at least not as early, and your flock will look at you in a different way. Look at the disciple/apostles...everyone of thm had major issues but God used them in a mighty way!! He is using us ina mighty way as well....so let use not give Him notice that we are not available to Him any more let us just re-group. Understand that tradition is and has killed the "Spirit" of the church. We who are here for the duration....need to understand that, lean on each other for support and when we preach even if it is a familiar text...there should always be a fresh illumination on a familar revelation!! In the words of Dr. Stephen Olford...."Preach The Word!" PMEB!
Posted by: Pastor Mae'stro Byars | Apr 19, 2005 4:21:29 PM
One of the incredible things that I have experienced in church life is the Pavlov's Dog way of being trained. We become accustomed to one set of behaviour and that is what we come to expect, what we come to accept, what we become used to. When we are routinely treated poorly (read attacked spiritually) by people who do not understand
the nature of the battle and the demands of ministry, we grow used to it. It breeds a victim mentallity that we need to overcome through what God has done for us in Jesus. Here are a few hints:
1 God was doing just fine before you became a pastor. He will do just fine when you are not. You are not indespensible
2. You need rest, refreshment, and filling of God's spirit. When you prepare sermons, that is work. When you lead devotionals, that is work. Get into the Bible when it is not work and get out and be with your family and friends.
There is a better way, there is greener pasture, there is light, life, and love in the church (and maybe even in your church) But through the broken times, it becomes hard to feel it. You are not a victim in these situations unless you choose to be. You are responsible for your own choices of how you interact and let others treat you. Stand up. As one who has been there, I know it can be costly, but it is worth it.
Love to share more but the dinner bell is ringing and I am starting to salivate...
Posted by: Josh Sklar | Apr 19, 2005 4:23:54 PM
I really appreciated this article myself. I am glad that my husband and I are not alone in the absolute abuse we endured in our last ministry. Sometimes I think I don't care if I never set foot in a church ever again after people treated us that way(yes, I know- WRONG!) Not all churches are sick and we need to not close ourselves off to new ministries and relationships because of others who set out to destroy us! Because satan definitely wants exactly that!!! Thanks Scott! Love the honesty!
Posted by: Jennifer | Apr 19, 2005 4:25:36 PM
Interesting comments from everyone. I also have stepped out of ministry for a time because of sheer exhaustion.
During our walk in the wilderness dealing with misc. issues after leaving my church we came across a wonderful series, "Lord Change My Attitude, before it's too late" done by James McDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel. LIFE CHANGING!!
I would highly recommend reading the book or listening to the CD's to anyone, pastor or lay person.
While some may see stepping out of ministry as failure, it is so comforting to know that we are in His hands. He has been so faithful to us: providing a small group, friends, a wonderful church to attend while resting, construction jobs, etc.
It's interesting, since not being in full-time paid pastoral ministry, God has brought more opportunities for witnessing to our neighbors and family than ever before. It sure is exciting!!
Posted by: Bob G | Apr 19, 2005 4:26:49 PM
Further note, Kudos to Scott for having the courage to address a serious issue in the church, clergy abuse. Thanks for the all too often honest look at life in the collar and for making yourself vulnerable in this way.
Posted by: Josh Sklar | Apr 19, 2005 4:30:37 PM
Well, thanks for the honesty. I have been praying about re-entering the pastorate. This blog and the comments following have given me reason to pray some more about that decision. I remember all that stuff too well when I was a pastor. The Lord will confirm His will in this one way or another.
Posted by: dave | Apr 19, 2005 4:47:30 PM
"The gentleman who posted the blog, should also seriously evaluate his walk with God. While men are beaten, imprisoned, and stoned to death for preaching the gospel in Muslim and communist nations, we ought not to be quitting the ministry because people treated us badly. We ought to be mature enough to expect that a world which hated God's Son enough to torture and murder Him, isn't going to welcome us with open arms."
So, we are rebuking a pastor for being honest? Yes our brothers in foreign lands are persecuted, but you know at least they can see the enemy coming! The Pastor doesn’t have a clue of who is stabbing him in the back until there is a crisis, or he makes a mistake and then welcome to the barbeque! Oh, he can run around, trying to put out the fires, but hey – aren’t we talking about the body of Christ here? Aren’t we all on the same team? Aren’t we all supposed to support each other – including the pastor?
Maybe the problem is with us pastors is that we are calling people Christians who do not demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. I wonder what would happen Sunday if Pastor’s all across the land actually told their people that if the Fruit of the Spirit is not evident in their lives- they are not saved! If so, I would suggest hiding the firewood first.
Posted by: Pastor Al | Apr 19, 2005 5:17:07 PM
Sometimes I think, even as Pastors we are not prepared to be open and candid with the Lord. When people act out in different ways towards us, this is yet another reminder to reach into our bag of tricks, i.e. life experiences, the old and the new and give what is pleasing to the Lord. What may be pleasing to the Lord, is simply to tell the truth, if you have not experienced this you have done yourself a disservice and the members of your congregation a greater disservice and the Lord is not please. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. You are an instrument choosen of the Lord, if you are feeling invalidated by others, perhaps you need to sit at the feet of the Only One who can validate you, JESUS CHRIST. We cannot afford to be dishonest with the Lord. All OF OUR HEARTS MUST BE PURE, BE YE HOLY, BECAUSE I AM HOLY, There is no other way and there is no other way into the heart of the God's people. The Pastor has been dealing with some serious strongholds, within himself and his members. The only way to enter the strongman's house, you must first bind up the strongman. If the strongman in our own lives have not been bound up by the Holy Spirit, how then can we bind up the strongman in others, then he was found sitting in his right mind. This is how the Lord prepares all who will serve him. GOD BLESS YOU.
Posted by: Curtis Brooks, Sr. | Apr 19, 2005 5:53:19 PM
As I read Scot's article I was saddened in that he is dependant on how men treat and receive him. Whenever a pastor places more value on the response of man than on his relationship with God he will always be disappointed. Our satisfaction as a servant of God must always be based on our obedience and relationship with God. Moreover, if our relationship with God is intact then we should be extremely satisfied.
The article reminds me of the scripture reference of a hireling. Every person called to live Christ will be persecuted by fellow man. I know what it is like to be shunned and made fun of and belittled. I know what its like to have people stand at your office door day in and day out to secretly curse you just because you love the Lord more than you do your own life and your unwillingness to give into the ways of the world. I know what its like to have my pay scale reduced in an effort to make me retire before my time. I know what its like to have my computers purposely damaged, isolated from others and from needed information, have my food and water tainted, challenged continuously and my work unappreciated simply because I love the Lord.
I know what it’s like when those in authority have schemed against you and make your work load double and forbid overtime knowing full well that if you are to succeed you have to spend the extra time just to stay afloat. Yet in all this I did not faint because I was in the direct will of God for my life and my satisfaction came when I knelt and prayed and fell into the arms of my loving Father who through Christ made me more than a conquer. Who to this day has never failed me. I am 52 years old retired from my secular job after 30 years, currently unemployed hoping to get back into the battle once more for Jesus in some ministry that will have me. Don’t think I didn’t struggle I did, but I took it all to the Lord and he comforted me and continues to give me strength to persevere. To stay afloat we need not learn to walk on water, but only reach out like Peter and take the hand of Jesus. So many today are like the sons of Sceva trying to do God’s work under human strength and burning out.
Seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost for it is the power of God freely given to you and your children to empower you to do what God has called you to do. Let us not lose sight that we are not of this world, but only sojourners commissioned to preach and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this present generation. I am a third generation Presbyterian who has had a Pentecostal experience who will never be the same.
Posted by: Daniel Zepeda | Apr 19, 2005 5:53:47 PM
I think that the reply from "Daniel Zepeda" misses the whole point -- and, in doing such, expresses the same "game playing" kind of power/control/manipulation/judgment dynamics of many (perhaps most!) congregations.
It is not about "ego" or "dependancy". It is not about being within "this denomination or that one", nor about a "pentecostal" experience or some "other" experience. Such thinking and suggestion are seemingly little more than rationalization and unrealistic hype.
Jesus was murdered. Stephen was murdered. Peter was murdered. Paul was murdered. People who try to do the right thing, for the right reason, with the right volition are beat up, chewed upon, and spit out in our culture. Unfortunately, our culture -- it would appear -- shapes the life and behavior of people than a pastor's proclamation of the Gospel, and her/his living by example the reality of love, mercy, kindess, compassion, humbleness, and trust. Such things, I would suggest, go so deeply against the grain of many people "occupying" the pews on Sunday morning. The result becomes the reality that our culture breeds "clergy killers" who are hellbent on making the life of the clergy challenged from many sides.
As stated by theologian/ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, "God is killing the church and we goddman deserve it!" Within this statement, the "church" is the people, the context, the arena, the institution, the politics, the pretending, the being anything and/or everything other than what Jesus had in mind, and the covenants that God has made with God's people.
The "church" of God is real, it exists, it will overcome. In the meantime, however, what we call "church" and find "church" to be will become extinct for it is already a dinosaur in an ice age!
My heart and mind and soul resonnate with the original post (from Scott) and those who find their heart and mind and soul in a like place. Still, to drop a "platitude" of equation that one need follow to be "real" is but something to which I must reply, "Get Real!"
Posted by: Pr. G. Dylan | Apr 19, 2005 6:52:09 PM
I, too, appreciate Scott's honesty and the honesty of so many others who have responded to his words. As for the few people who questioned his attitude, I don't know what they're thinking! They're ignoring, for instance, the pain inflicted on the spouses & children of pastors by laymen who are completely unloving and insensative and unChristlike. Is it wrong for pastors to leave the ministry in order to protect their families from the constant abuse they receive? I served 28 years in the youth ministry. I loved having the opportunity to have a positive spiritual impact on young lives. But if I had it all to do over again, I probably would have left sooner than I did for the sake of my wife and sons.
It also doesn't help that few denominational leaders seem willing to truly support their pastors when they come under attack. They're quick to challenge us to sacrifice everything for the good of the church. But when we need them to go out on a limb for us, well...I just don't see it happening very often at all.
The bottom line, I think it's amazing that MORE pastors don't throw in the towel in order to get away from the constant beating many of them take from mean-spirited, so-called Christians.
Posted by: Jack Schmitt | Apr 19, 2005 6:56:30 PM
I love these comments:
“Get a tough Skin” Ok – but I thought we were suppose to be sensitive to peoples needs?
“Your suppose to suffer” – true – but even Jesus wept didn’t he?
“Only hirelings complain” – but I thought Paul said – “don’t judge my faithfulness?”
“You’re a Target” – I didn’t know the “body of Christ” was commanded to target practice on the Pastor?
“Pray More” – (as if we don’t) is that before or after I spend hours counseling your kids, because you won’t?
“You just need to Love more” – Ok, but am I still allowed to spend time with my family?
“Be Honest” – Sure, could you spend a few moments with me? Oh, your busy tonight. How about tomorrow? Oh, you are going on a family outing. How about next week? Ok, I’ll call you, no, ok, well I will wait for your call. Thanks. “No problem pastor, you know I am here for you.”
Posted by: Pastor Al | Apr 19, 2005 7:51:12 PM
Thanks for dealing with a difficult but relevant topic. Why do pastors leave the ministry? They discover expectations, especially in smaller churches, are impossible for one man to accomplish. For me, I left professional ministry for the sake of my family, marriage, and my own spiritual well-being. Why? For me, I found the way we do church usually has more to do with playing religious games and impression management than genuine relationship with God. I found the day of the positive confession and psychobabble draped in Scripture called sermons was no longer something worth sacrificing all for.
I am teacher and discipler. I want to see life's changed. I found my place was in the classroom. I have become a teacher and my students are my parish. Does everyone understand? No. I still get the strange looks from those who are holding on in the ministry hoping God will do something to make it all work again. Work again in a way that does not rely on our marketing and programs, but through changed lives. Lives that are maturing in their relationship with God and are making a difference for his kingdom in this world.
Posted by: Bob | Apr 19, 2005 7:54:12 PM
I am not pastoring any longer because I would rather not pastor at all than do it some new age way that is far from being biblical. I've pastored/youth pastored/asst. pastored the last eleven years of my life up to this past July. I would love to be in the ministry again but I can't find a group of people that care more about what the bible says than what they've become stuck in. I'm not some flake. I've gone to bible college and achieved a bachelors degree, which is of no need. If it is a requirement, they miss the whole point. Much more to say, but wont unless there is someone who would like to here.
Posted by: Curtis Hutchinson | Apr 19, 2005 8:00:22 PM
Truly, there is pain and sacrifice that comes with serving the Lord. It is when we lose sight of the person of Jesus Christ that the cost becomes more than we can pay. Jesus didn't say come lets have a party, but called us to lay down our lives to serve him. It is in my abiding in Jesus the vine that the vinedresser can prune and make me more fruitful. When I stated I had a Pentecostal experience I was not referring to a denomination but a God given empowerment to fulfill the great commission. It is the same power that transformed a bunch of cowards into mighty men of God who feared not death, persecution or trials. Here is an excerpt from Hebrews Chapter 10: 19-39 concerning giving up.
19Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”£ £says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”£ 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34for you had compassion on £me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves £in heaven. 35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
36For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
37“For yet a little while, And He£ who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just£ shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”£
39But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Posted by: Daniel Zepeda | Apr 19, 2005 8:10:57 PM
I know this is going to be a long blog but, I was looking over a web-site where a church was looking for a Pastor and the following is what is posted. As I read the standards the Pastor must meet, I was wondering if Jesus could live up to their requirements. If this is what is required of the Pastor in his church role, what will they expect from his family. As I have looked over the other comments listed, it saddens my heart to see so many hurting Pastors and families. And the sad reality is that we will keep on doing the work of the ministry even when we are expected to do the impossible. As you read this, say a prayer for the many good Pastors that are already under the critical eye and not allowed to feel the freedom of love.
The Senior Pastor will provide leadership to ------- Baptist Church
a. strong emphasis on Bible teaching with evangelistic goals
b. heart for children
c. vision for growth
d. missions minded
e. democratic leadership style (not autocratic)
f. broad appeal across all age groups
g. fiscally responsible as evidenced by a credit investigation
h. good character
i. deeply cares for his congregation
j. strong leadership skills
k. strong family man who leads his own family effectively
l. warm, professional appearance and demeanor
m. energetic and outgoing personality]
n. captivating speaking ability
o. has a passion for winning souls
p. absolutely no criminal activity or poor conduct to be revealed in background check
q. passion for outreach programs
r. excellent people/diplomacy skills
s. excellent organizational skills
t. sense of humor
u. familiar with facility building projects
v. extensive knowledge of the Bible as evidenced, preferably, by a seminary degree
1. be in charge of worship services
2. preach the Word of God regularly
3. administer the ordinances
1. join with the Deacons in exercising spiritual oversight
2. work with the leadership to organize and develop the possibilities for service available in the church
c. Administration: be an ex-officio voting member of all committees and organizations of the church
d. Training: ensure the discipleship and training of nimistry staff members and current and future Deacons of the church
a. The Senior Pastor will report to the Deacon Board
b. This position will be evaluated annually
Posted by: Pastor JJ | Apr 19, 2005 9:25:11 PM
Pr. G. Dylan wrote: "It is not about being within "this denomination or that one", nor about a "pentecostal" experience or some "other" experience. Such thinking and suggestion are seemingly little more than rationalization and unrealistic hype.
Jesus was murdered. Stephen was murdered. Peter was murdered. Paul was murdered. People who try to do the right thing, for the right reason, with the right volition are beat up, chewed upon, and spit out in our culture"
Unrealistic Hype? The indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost is the power Of Almighty God. It is totally different from saving faith that seals us unto the day of redemption. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is what empowered the saints to accomplish what they did in the face of death. You said Jesus was murdered, which is a false statement due to ignorance of Gods plan of salvation. Jesus was not murdered He laid down his life willingly as well as the many saints that have given their lives in service to their Lord. Call it murder if you wish, but I will call it Love Divine. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Posted by: Daniel Zepeda | Apr 19, 2005 9:27:09 PM
I have read through the blog and the responses to see the points that you ministers are making in your replies. The calling to serve God is a noble calling and there is no higher calling than that. The calling of God's servants has been perverted to satisfy the wants of the carnal church and the ministers are being persecuted through these things. It should come as no surprise to any of us as the Lord Jesus Himself spoke of these things happening. Sadly enought some 1400 ministrs in North America alone are deserting their calls for periods of time to take a break. It is to those ministers and those that will follow suit that my wife and I have been led to reach out to in a ministry called Job's Place Ministries International. It is moving with the vision to help hurting pastors and their families to be restored into a healthy spiritual walk with God through Christ once again. God loves His called along with His people. The time is come that we, the called ministers of God, should take a prayerful styance towards what is happening to our fellow ministers and lift them to God in prayer.
God loves us all and will heal the hurt and pain. My wife and daughter and I have experianced enough of this that we have written a book and our daughter has written a book about such treatment but give God the glory for the experiences.
Posted by: Randy Heddings | Apr 19, 2005 9:55:07 PM
Ironic, isn't it, that Todd forewarns us about something happening from within and without the church... pastors and lay people leaving the organized form of Christianity we know of as "the church." While the Church is likely to survive as it always has, I fear that North America's version of the church, small "c" has seen its zenith.
Fear not, for there is a growing underground movement which views spirituality differently than our recent forefathers, recognizing that Christ is far larger than any organized body, denomination or movement. We have few biblical parameters for church forms as we know it today. There are numerous opportunities which will emerge in years to come as we discover life after the church.
In the meantime, plan for more articles, polls, statistics, and confessionals as this trend evolves. As a student of church organizations, I'm confident that we've yet to see some of the dramatic differences which will emerge in this transition.
Alan Nelson, Ed.D. (recently resigned from pastoring a nine year church plant and over twenty years of local church leadership to pursue other ministry venues)
Posted by: Alan Nelson | Apr 19, 2005 10:48:08 PM
I read the comments of the hurting Pastor. I too left the Pastorate after thirty years. I miss the people, greatly love every minute of study, prayer and preaching counseling and serving. What I don't miss is how alone one feels, expectation of perfection, and antagonists that complain about everything like if they were being served as customers in a bakery.
I hope to get back into the Pastorate soon but at 55 there are not many places that want someone at that age anymore. Most of the job rejection comments say, "you don't fit our profile" nice words to say, you are too old.
God will open up new doors soon and we will walk by faith .. for now we are healing and taking some rest from the verbal unkindness. Only by Grace.. Larry
Posted by: Larry | Apr 19, 2005 10:56:05 PM
Wow. What a thread. Good thoughts all around. I find it interesting that some chide the pastor for knowing that the job would be tough or to not depending upon the power of the Holy Spirit enough.
True, we can take anything when empowered by the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, to think that we fallible, human pastors would not be affected by the politics of a group of people calling themselves Christian but acting just the opposite -- well, it's just not realistic. It's on a level with walking through the emergency room waiting area and telling people they shouldn't be concerned by Dad's heart attack or hurt by their daughter's drug overdose.
Posted by: rev-ed | Apr 19, 2005 11:40:08 PM
Like many others, when I read Scott's blog, I was wondering if he had been looking over my shoulder 15 years when I was asked to leave my last congregation. I was too negative, and there were people who were threatening to withhold their giving if I stayed. (It didn't matter that I was investigating one of the elders who was involved in very un-christian activities.)
In almost all of the churches I served, I was always nothing more than a hired servant. I was expected to be in the office certain hours, but also to be available for anyone and everyone who needed me (except for my family). If I didn't tell them that they were all good people and going to heaven, I was being too negative. It got to the point where when we had a board meeting, I was a mess, because I never what I was doing rightor wrong, or who was going to attack me this time.
I know that I became paranoid, but like many of the others I have read here, I was literally drove out of the ministry, and the state office was no help, because they were more concerned with keeping the church happy.
I admist that I made mistakes, but I was not allowed to. When my daughter went to a Christian school, I was chided that I didn't consider the local schools good enough. When I would sweat on a Sunday morning, I was told to wear dress shields, because I was not supposed to sweat. They didn't like my dog, because it occasionally barked. I simply never could do right. Because my situation changed for Thanksgiving (my wife found out she was pregnant and we decided to go home to tell our parents). Earlier in the day, I had met with the board chairman, and had not told him what was going on (since I didn't know at the time). WHen he found out that I had asked for vacation time for Thanksgiving, he resigned stating that I was not respectful enough to him. But he did not have the guts to bring the letter to me, to the office, he sent it with the chairman of the elders, who then ripped into me for not being thoughtful enough.
Yes, I know that there has been a lot of hurt, but at the time I was in the full-time ministry, there was a lot of prayer, time spent in the Word, seeking God's will. But you know what? He has called me back into ministry. I am not looking for a church for the first time in 15 years. What will happen, I don't know, but I know this: I am better off for the time off.
Posted by: Steve Rice | Apr 19, 2005 11:46:19 PM
I meant to say that I am looking for a church for the first time in 15 years.
Posted by: Steve Rice | Apr 20, 2005 12:01:14 AM
WOW! is all I can say. My wife and I have been in the ministry for almost 14 years. We have been youth, children's and interim pastors. We have had great times and then we have had times of PURE HELL! (don't read this with any shock that I said this)
We have experienced much hurt, some of which was directed to us some directed to our children. This is the truly wrong part. It seems to be somewhat expected from church people, but it realy hurts when you're a staff pastor and the hurt comes from the pastor and his WIFE. There is absolutely NO relationships between the staff regarding my family. Now the other staff pastor is of course, the son-in-law. We have had several problems with this situation and have talked with the pastor and were told that he knows he shows favortism to his son-in-law and if we didn't like it and couldn't get over it maybe we needed to leave. Since the family has been a great issue in the church we have had MANY leave the church, and many have tried to talk with the pastor and they have ended up leaving as well. (this stinks and hurts even worse when it comes from the ones your are being faithful to serve)
This ministry is a great call in our lives and we love it. It has caused joy and sorrow, but I would like to say God is faithful.
Now to some of these other bloggers..... GET REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some of you above have said and tried to lay blame on the pastors that are HURTING and being abused. But look at it with some of the same councel you would give a women or man that has been abused(physically or mentally), you would most likely tell them that they need to ensure their safety above all.
Just how can a pastor ensure their safety without taking different measures in their lives.
It is very true, we need to have more honesty and truthfullness and I believe it needs to start with us pastors being honest with our boards and holding them accountable to protect us as we lead the flock. (this is war and in war the general is always protected unto death!)
God bless and hold on as tight as you can, Jesus is coming back soon!
Posted by: PK | Apr 20, 2005 12:01:19 AM
"24": But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
"25": And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
"44": How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Posted by: Harry Miller | Apr 20, 2005 7:06:17 AM
Thanks Scott for being so truthful and real. I have enjoyed, yes enjoyed the last three and 1/2 years of ministry. It has been one of the most exciting but yet most gut-wrenching experiences of my life. I was fortunate to have my family working in ministry with me. Our church growth has been 1000% since we have been there, God has done great things. But old habits die hard. We are leaving the ministry not because of conflict but because at the current rate of growth we cannot maintain the church and my secular job. The fact that I am bi-vocational gave me much freedom in dealing with the old habits and traditions of men that needed to change in order for our church to grow. The cost was high in some instances. I know people who allowed me to pray for their children who were ill or wanting to commit suicide, and then 1 week later were ready to break out the tar and feathers. I do not think I would ever go into full-time ministry just because I could not deal with the potential compromises. My hat is off to those who can manage that and manage it well.
I have to say that I will be back in ministry one day, but not for awhile. Even the best athlete's need to sit on the bench once and awhile.
Posted by: Ron | Apr 20, 2005 9:05:11 AM
Sometimes, I am amazed at the heartless, unChristlike comments that some share on these blogs. To condemn some of these pastors who are hurting, or who left the ministry is heartless. They don't need cliches or even verses from the Scripture. Maybe, what they need right now is to know that others care about them. I am not going through a rough time in ministry right now. I have before though and I know the cruelty and unChristlike words and actions of the saints. My heart goes out to those who have shared their hurt and disappointments. I prayed for you today and asked God to wrap His arms around you and to minister to you. I have a burden for pastors who have been fired or abused by churches. We have tried to minister to pastors in our area who have gone through this pain by supplying financial assistance and counseling and an ear to listen and to love. Those who would be cruel and judgemental towards those who have left the ministry or those still in the ministry and hurting, why not get down on your knees today and thank God that you are not going through what they are. While you are down there, why not pray for these pastors who are hurting, and oh yes, before you get off your knees, why not pray that when you face the same hurt (it will come) that your heart won't be so condeming and hardened.
Posted by: Larry | Apr 20, 2005 9:33:50 AM
Mixed feelings about the article. I have been in ministry for over 30 years and have experienced similar situations. When I get low I try to remember "Your labor is not in vain in the Lord" I Cor. 15. I also think about Christ and Phil. 3 - "That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings..." He was despised and rejected of men so maybe we are looking at it all wrong.
In each of my ministries there were people who loved me and encouraged me. My focus should be on those folks, not the ones who brought wrong to me and my family.
My thoughts of leaving had more to do with my feelings of inadequacies in dealing with children who died or helping families whose kids ended their lives. My own kids at times have made me wonder if I am Biblically qualified, but I still am convinced He called me to be a Shepherd and I must obey.
Posted by: Dave | Apr 20, 2005 9:42:05 AM
I believe the Bible to suggest that we are to be loving at all times. But nowhere does it say that any of us need to feel like a doormat.
I would love to speak at any of your churches on "true" love: love that is patient, kind... all of what 1 Cor 13:4-8 has to say. But there's another aspect to love - no less valid; it's called telling people the truth... even when it hurts. Hopefully, we can speak the truth in love. But just as important is to speak the truth. Why can't someone (a Pastor) communicate why he is upset? Why is the expectation so unrealistic? Maybe people need to know that Pastors are not Jesus... just His servants.
We all are weak, have shortcomings: some we presume are socially acceptable - some not so much. At the end of the day, Jesus died for ALL of us, He loves ALL of us, and is 'dealing' with ALL of us in His own way. How dare someone criticize someone else's walk? Is that what Pastors are expected to do? Criticize others? If our example is Jesus, then criticize behavior... NOT people!!! Love the sinner, hate the sin. This, I presume, we could all agree on.
Pastors NEED to start speaking the truth... for ALL our sakes. Maybe it needs to come from someone else outside first. If this is the case, I'm open to the challenge as a "guest speaker." The truth is what everyone says they want... until it starts hitting home. The truth is one of the most loving things one can give someone else - regardless the means; i.e., hateful attitude, etc. The truth is God's... not ours. We all see through a glass dimly - at best! We ALL need each other to help get us through. Pastors are NOT little Jesus's and their congregations NEED to know this! Teachers need to explain this in copious detail so as to help everyone have sane expectations.
This entire blog is about unrealistic expectations. PLEASE, surrender to the cross daily, put on the full armor of God, but also realize from whence you've come... and where you're headed. Trust me when I tell you, NO ONE knows the path they're on until after they've finished it. There's a reason why God doesn't give us full understanding of what's ahead - we couldn't handle it, but one day at a time we can.
Surely, I don't have it "all together," but I'm on my way. God won't fall off His throne because a pastor says from the pulpit something the congregation won't want to hear. Where did pastors learn all this insecurity... truly it isn't a Godly trait. We are all to work out our salvation with fear and trembling... before a loving, merciful, and gracious God. Yes, a God that has standards, but standards (rules, laws, etc.) we were never able to live up to - hence, Jesus!
It's REALLY that simple. Why don't pastors speak the truth more about this topic - even for each other? There should be at least a 4-tape series on such a topic! Something every person coming into your church must listen to prior to becoming a member.
When someone criticizes you unrealistically, it SHOULD be a defensive characteristic to point out that there must be a plank in their eye to notice the mite in yours! What are we all afraid of? Being offensive?!? So what? I believe in speaking with love, but how much love was being administered when Jesus had the stick in the temple with the money changers? Did Jesus forget His love then? NO! The message of the hour was to show them how wicked they had become! Jesus was not delivering the message the way the expected it to be delivered, or through the means by which they felt it would be most welcomed. Jesus was interested in the truth... not everyone else's opinion of Him. As a result, He set the standard by which we are to judge situations as a whole.
If someone leaves your church because they're offended, what's the worst thing that will happen? They'll talk behind your back? Aren't they already doing that? So what? As a leader - not a manager - there should be a natural choosing of sides with the people, and it will be formed out of respect - not gooey love.
Truly, I have WAY more respect for ALL of you than you do for yourselves. Leaders, by their nature, promote controversy. Don't see this as a stumbling block, but a welcome sign that you're doing things right. How can there be change until someone sets the standard. So long as the Bible is your standard, we can all follow. How can any of us follow someone who's trying to please everyone else? This just doesn't make sense. Jesus wasn't a people-pleaser... He was a God-pleaser. And THIS is the true heart of the Good Shepherd! So should it be ALL of ours... and I'm not even a pastor!
I hope this helps. I mean to project the truth in a loving manner, but if love wasn't what you felt, check that you aren't having the same attitude with me as YOUR critics! Regardless the avenue, we ALL have to deal with the truth if we are to be true Christians: for Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life.
Truly, God's richest blessings to you all,
Shelby Township, Michigan
Posted by: David Riley | Apr 20, 2005 9:44:45 AM
As I read your article I have to say I know how you feel. Nevertheless as hard as it is somtimes to deal with people including pastors we must keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.We don't want to be like the Isrealites loving the ministry today and hating it tomorrow.I have been serving in the church for twenty years and I would say out of 100 percent maybe one would say thank you.But I have learned this one thing
it is better to please God and not men and in the end when He says "well done thou good and faithful servant" that is the greatest gift any pastor can receive.God is Good all the time.I have learned this one thing, as the apostle Paul would say, if God be for me, then who can be against me.Just remember Jesus loves you and no one on the face of this planet will ever love you like He does.We all had to learn that the hard way and is thankful to God for His love and faithfulnes in delivering us from people,so that our eyes would be on Him(JESUS)Amen?Jesus loves you and so do I!Leila.
Posted by: Leila LeMay | Apr 20, 2005 10:04:47 AM
I think there are several things "in play" here that contribute to the "plight of the minister."
1. Automatically in "Americanized Christianity" we assume that a "call to the ministry" means "Pastoring" when in fact, it can and should mean much more. Jesus gave 5 office gifts at His ascension and there are other gifts given as well in Romans 12, 1st Corinthians 12 & 14 (Leadership, serving, etc.).
Too many people are pastoring when they should be evangelizing, or teaching or some other gifting. They don't have "Shepherd hearts" and then they get hurt by trying to be Shepherds...
More mature people in Church leadership, means more people helping to shoulder the burdens of ministry and more people to disciple the people into maturity (nice lead in to point 2).
2. We really do have "thin skin" here in America. Only God can love us perfectly, yet we expect man to. God has commanded US to make disciples and yet we expect God to. People in our flocks will only mature to the level that we help them obtain (this is the Great Commission, mind you: "teaching them to obey, all that I commanded...").
Sheep bite. That is what the "rod and staff" are for! Not in an "angry, I'm Moses, hear me roar" type of way, but loving, yet firm correction. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend.... Better is an open rebuke, then love concealed."
I am amazed at the years some people have been in "church" but yet they lack maturity. And it is not just THEIR fault. We have been given the mandate to disciple them. That means "cutting" on them. The one who desires to grow, will welcome the pruning. The ones who just want to cast stones with no consequences will leave... and we will be the better for it.
3. We do need to stop the division between "Clergy and Laity." It doesn't exist in the Bible. Yes, some may be "fulltime" in the sense of "pay", but everyone should be a "minister." To much pressure is being expected and exerted on those who are "paid staff" to do the work of the ministry, when in fact they are supposed to be equipping the congregation for the "works of service."
4. Lastly, people who are in ministry need to learn to take sabaticals! I have been in "fulltime" ministry for 18 years (many of those being bi-vocational) and about 12 years into it was about to fall apart. Ministry is taxing. It can be a downfall if you let it. But YOU have the CHOICE. God designed the Sabbath rest (and not just once a week)!
Look at what he required of Israel, every 7 years. TAKE A BREAK!!!
Life and ministry will go on without you. I took a 2 year Sabatical that helped keep my marriage strong and brought me back into ministry with a renewed vision, focus and zeal!
The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. But you can minister and NOT have to be in a staff position. But don't give up on "fulltime ministry" either.
Strike the balance...
And remember, love never fails. Jesus called us to bless those who curse us. Pray for those who persecute us. Love the unlovable and wash the feet of those who would deny, abandon and betray you. That is the love of Christ!
Posted by: Doug Levy | Apr 20, 2005 10:27:35 AM
I too, was a full time pastor that left the church. I was called by God to get into the ministry. I am a single father of a boy that I adopted back in the mid 90's. The first church that I served was absolutely wonderful. We loved serving in that church and was definitely energized by the Holy Spirit. We moved to a new church in Texas and was told that our salary would be a certain amount. When we moved there we were totally surprised to learn that the salary was less than half what they promised. I am not talking just a little bit but an amount that was very difficult on us. We had to live on $750 a month! This was at a time that my son grew 10 inches in one year! I was going to school which was 45 miles away and had to pay my own travel, books, schooling, etc. I was not allowed to get a part time job on the side to help with expenses. The church did not have good relations with the one other church in town. In fact, one of the elders of the church made a comment that we would not have an Easter service with "that other church" as long as he was a member of the church. This was the mindset of the church! I prayed and prayed over this. After one year my son and I moved back to Illinois. I often asked myself "why?" How could God allow this to happen to me. I went into great debt as a result of the very low pay. The one thing that gives me hope is Jesus! The church grew by one person while I was there (this in a town of 100 people). It was that one person that makes me believe that God had a reason for us moving down there. She was saved as a result of me visiting her at her home. I do not know what God has planned for her in her life but I do know that God and His angels are rejoicing over her becoming born again! The new church that we served started out fine enough and after some time passed, the backstabbing occurred. My son became the target of the church. Not the whole church, mind you, but the church elders and leaders. They would scrutinize everything he did. They would talk about him. They would deride him to such a hateful level. I love my son with all my heart and he has a wonderful heart for God. He wants to open a camp for abused and disadvantaged children (he came from a home where he was abused). I left the church because my son was being overly affected. We talked about it to great extent and it finally came down to where I did not want him to lose his heart for God and His Church. It has been 5 years now since I was a pastor. My son loves God with all his heart. He is now married with a wonderful wife that I love so much and they also have a beautiful son that is 9 months old. I am still single but God has given me the greatest family in the world! I have still performed weddings and funerals. I still have the same heart that I did in the church. I am an executive with a retail business and am loving it so much. People come up to me and want to know what is different about me. They like that I am not a backstabber, that I do not cuss and that I genuinely care for people. God called me into the ministry. He puts us where it is best for us to be. The man who put up the blog was speaking from his heart. This is not the place to question his integrity as a Christian. Because we do not know what plan God has for him or for any of us. You have heard the phrase "preaching to the choir?" I think you will find that the preaching is much better when done to those who truly want to hear what you have to say. We are all to be ministers for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If we judge people by how they react within the church walls to pressure, then we need to ask God to forgive us for judging others. My hope for all people, those that I have had the pleasure of serving and those that I have not yet met, that they would all come to love Jesus and would walk with Him. May God bless you all. If you would like to talk please feel free to email me. I would be happy to pray for anyone! have a great day in the Lord! email@example.com
Posted by: BrianCulver | Apr 20, 2005 11:18:54 AM
I've read a good majority of the things in this article, including the comments of other ministers. I would agree with most all of them. However,I enjoyed pastoring a church more than life itself at times. I find the problem to be that most Christians are very Pharisical, including some preachers. Now understand what I'm saying. Jesus not only healed the sick, saved the lost, and was the ultimate pastor of 12, he also fought the Pharisees with their legalisms. My question is, who calls a man to preach and pastor a church. Not the churches, but God does. There are many preachers, including myself, that have been put off to the side because of money problems, divorce, etc. Divorce is what got me. My wife comes in one day and said, "You weren't a preacher when I married you and I'm not a pastor's wife." and she left. Victim of circumstance pure and simple. But for me and probably many others other in this situation, our ministry, as a pastor, is over simply because of a HUMAN mistake. If we look at mistakes, then none of us are qualified to do anything for the Lord. Being called to preach is the greatest blessing there is. Yes, the man who talked about the criticisms, and the monitoring the pastor and expecting him not to fall is right. There are a lot of church members, who call themselves Christians, who stand in judgment of preachers and don't look at the lives they live theirselves. In fact, they would blame their spirituality on the pastor and not take credit for their own failures or accomplishments. Put the shoes on of a man who has the desire to pastor, but can't because of a failed marriage. If we all did, we would find ourselves looking and trying to find ways to get back into the ministry as a pastor or trying to help a pastor who is in this situation instead of judging him. If you did, you could stop saying "I don't want to do this anymore simply because of the people who judge me." We should see the importance of the calling and put it above all. I believe that when God calls us and we surrender to HIM, that He gives us strength to overcome failure, being talked about, etc. Yes it hurts when people we love and cherish say negative things about us and our families when we pastor. There is no denying that. However, we need to be about God's business and not worrying about what other people think or say. I know that is very hard, because we know we are human even when our church members think we're not or don't seem to care. However, the blessing of God overcome and out weigh anything men can do. Thanks for the comments and articles. They helped me see where I am going and make me wish even more that I could pastor again. Ronnie
Posted by: Ronnie M. | Apr 20, 2005 11:30:25 AM
I am feeling now like Scott. I am ready to 1) Find a new church, or 2) Take a leave of absence from the ministry.
I have been abused by parishioner, had unreal expectations laid upon me, been paid poorly (our giving is so low it is up in the air from week to week what my paycheck will be), had my character assassinated, and have been mocked and made fun of, etc., etc.
Through all of that I still want to be a pastor. BUT, I realize now more than ever that GOD called me. Paul told Timothy "fulfill your ministry." It is MY ministry. Not the churches. They have no right to tell me how to do it. That is between God and me. I am a pastor (equipper). I don't change baby Christian diapers and wipe snotty noses. Christians will either grow up or get out. I have no time for patty cake, mamby pamby, nonsense. If you need your hand held, go find a nanny. I am NOT available 24/7 - that is the Holy Spirit's job. I am NOT a counselor. Read your Bible. My first question when people have problems is "are you tithing?" If not, they need to deal with sin first - come back after tithing for a year.
God is shaking up His church. Some folks (THANK GOD!!!) are going to get shook out. I firmly believe we will be surprised at how many we thought would be in heaven will not be there.
Is all this harsh? Yes. Sheep need less lovin' and more beatin' with the rod. The need correction, rebuke, and exhortation. The day of "nice pastor" is over.
Men and women of God. Get real. Get the rod. Go to work!!!
Posted by: Pastor Art | Apr 20, 2005 12:12:49 PM
"Pastor, you look a bit dejected today. Is something wrong?"
You bet there's something wrong! The hosts of hell have mounted an all-out assault upon the servants of God. If the inquirer only knew just how much is wrong. But the pastor, brave soul that he is, shrugs it off with the reply, "Oh, nothing much. Just tired today, I guess."
My experience has been that most pastors don't feel at liberty to bare their own soul with those who ask. You see, pastors are supposed to be strong, "on top of it," always positve. You can't spoil the image - you know. And so, Brother Pastor struggles bravely on, with a big grin on his face . . . but big frown in his heart.
Make no mistake about it, the 'ole devil and his army is out to bring us down. We are a target of their hatred, these infernal powers of darkness.
Even Paul was hindered by Satan as he pursued his work for the Lord (1 Thess. 2:18), and he suffered physical pain because of this "thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7).
In his masterful exposure of demonic schemes, he warned us that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but . . . against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
We need to keep in mind that our trials and distresses, as servants of God, are not of human origin. Our conflict is not primarily with Mrs. Whatnow or Deacon Youdidwhat, but it is with a tremendously powerful supernatural being whose entire time and attention is devoted to disrupting God's work. The pastor is a number one target for the devil and his forces of evil.
We are warned that we ought not to be "ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). It is sometimes difficult to recognize the hand of Satan. Things that happen seem so natural, so "human" and so expainable. But there is a sinister mastermind behind those events that threaten the peace and effectiveness of the shepherd of God.
Let me encourage you guys to stick to the stuff and not let the devil win. Keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of the enemies.
Posted by: PK4LIFE | Apr 20, 2005 12:49:53 PM
Pastor Art said:
"Is all this harsh? Yes. Sheep need less lovin' and more beatin' with the rod. The need correction, rebuke, and exhortation. The day of "nice pastor" is over."
Pastor, I think you are going down the wrong road, likely doing more damage than good to your local body of Christ. One of the main tasks for a Pastor is being a nurturer.
Is Jesus your role model? Try acting like Him. He was the harshest with those in the "religion field" and industry. Be like Jesus-- teaching, leading, building-up. Correction may be needed, but your post makes it look like it is your focus... bent on revenge or something... getting even...?
A suggestion, have you read the book "The Five Love Langages?" Sounds like you may need to be introduced more into the way of love. It has transformed my life, so I hope you know the material.
Posted by: bernie dehler | Apr 20, 2005 6:13:15 PM
It's time for your meds!
Posted by: Ricky | Apr 20, 2005 6:37:41 PM
Wow! It's wonderful for people to have a place to vent a little, but sad that this experience is so widespread. I've been through it in a couple of different ways; I'm a PK, and my dad left the ministry for a few years so my parents could work on their marriage; he's back in and things are better, but the 'same old' is creeping back again. And my husband is a staff member at our church, and is struggling with his calling after being railroaded by members of his ministry team and left defenseless by our pastor. Through his whole experience, he felt unable to defend his ministry and his efforts (even his personality!) both because he felt he had to rise above the situation and because our pastor's response (once making a list of all the complaints - in front of the complainants!) gave him no standing. Their attacks made him seriously consider whether God had even gifted him for this position.
The frustrating part is that often it's only a select group of people who are making things miserable. And sorry, but even taking everything to Jesus doesn't prevent us from having very human feelings. While we do want to please God rather than men, it makes things tricky when those 'men' write the paycheck that supports your family (it does matter, as much as we'd like to think it doesn't).
Complicating our situation is that our pastor feels pressured to 'keep people happy' as our denomination appoints heads who decide when to move the pastors - often for numbers or financial issues. So when people leave mad, he gets nervous.
Support is the main issue here - I think God understands that we need human support sometimes in addition to support through prayer.
Posted by: RB | Apr 20, 2005 7:16:03 PM
Good! And he is right on all points. jesus would say, "I've been there, I've felt the pain you feel, I've been there. I'm acquainted with your trials. So when your going through the valley of the heartache once again, you're only going where I've already been, I've been there."
The trouble is that when you go back to the nets as Peter said, you will find that the world is no different. They inspect, intrud, prod and punch there too. Now you will have to add to that the Lord chasing you back to where He placed you, or at least that is what Jonah would say.
We have all been there and some are there now. The path is a lonely one until you say, this is who I am and what I am if I meet your needs great if not there is always other churches to help you! Having done all to stand...Stand!
Posted by: Rusty | Apr 21, 2005 12:59:09 PM
like most folks i read most of the comments/my family and i were missionaries to indonesia and the philippines/then came back to the states and started a church/all-in-all we were in the ministry for 25 years/gospel singers/radio talk show host/as the others we have felt the glory and the pain/i join the group of the moral failures/i am presently employed as a deputy sheriff so really the ministry is not so bad from this perspective/i would like to get back in a ministry/i made more money in the minstry and i am better trained for that "calling". but as every one knows the saints can be reinstated but it is a hard road for a fallen minister/as all the responders know we are in an entirely different social arena than ever before/pressure on every side and also a change in mentality from the former days of pastoring/i agree with the writer and with the responders/ i myself was not as wounded as my wife and children were in the ministry and also by me/anyway i have my resume on the web and if i were contacted by a church i would respond/i do know that my ministry would be far different than it was before/thanks for the oppertunity to vent
Posted by: bobby sutton | Apr 21, 2005 2:17:21 PM
Pastor Jay Wegter says:
Committed Christians are leaving churches because the corporate institutional model represents and increasing departure from N.T. apostalic Christianity. A fellow pastor and myself have penned some observations on what would be necessary to escape the institutional approach.
Thoughts on Church Renewal
By Jay Wegter and Massimo Lorenzini
The Need for a Grace Awakening
So many churches need a “grace awakening.” They are stuck in maintenance mode—the congregation is coasting along on the pastor’s energy. Here is a typical way a church gets into this religious rut: A church calls a new pastor. Both the congregation and the pastor enter into the relationship with excitement and hope for the future. The new pastor experiences an initial “honeymoon” in which his faults are overlooked. The congregation enthusiastically pledges their loyalty to him. They then settle back and bask in his radiant heat as he burns himself up for them.
The new pastor may find it superficially rewarding to operate as a “source person” who brokers the glory of God to the people. If he is not careful, his ego receives a power boost by the way the church looks to him as the professional answer-man who doles out the revelation of God. If he is a man of vision, he enjoys the newfound influence he has to lead the church. But after the first year, his happy delusions melt away as he discovers the spiritual deadness of the people. Instead of unleashing the congregation, he finds that they are operating in a parasitic fashion of dependency upon Him. They are draining him dry. He’s an unwilling “pope” to them—a vicar of Christ, a figurehead in whom they take pride. He knows something is not right, but he can’t put his finger on it.
Without a grace awakening, they will be unable to give back to God, their pastor, or one another. They are operating upon reflected glory, similar to those who gazed at Moses’ glowing face after he descended the holy mountain with the law of God (Ex 34:29-35). But they themselves are not in the habit of regularly beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel. They are not daily drawing their spiritual life directly from Christ in personal communion with Him.
In a grace awakening the congregation will begin to fix their sight on Christ and what He has done for them in redeeming them by grace. As they grow in their personal knowledge of the Son of God by the Spirit of God through the Word of God, they will be eager to follow Christ in discipleship and ministry. They will become team players alongside the pastor rather than being mere spectators sitting on the sidelines watching the ministry of the pastor. They will no longer be content to accept the ministry of their pastor as a substitute for their own ministry within and through the body.
The Lost Spiritual Discipline of Meditation
The majority of church members today have not learned to go to their Savior directly by meditation, worship, and adoration. Lest we forget, meditation is a godly discipline that is resisted by our natural faculties. Our cognitive faculties are dialed into sensual stimuli. As our media-saturated culture becomes more and more visually stimulated by man-made fantasies, it becomes increasingly difficult to tune our hearts into the invisible truths of the gospel. It is work to have the eyes of the heart opened fully wide to behold by faith unseen spiritual certainties. But the labor of meditation is necessary if our souls are to be ravished by the sight of our wealth in the Son of God. (the remainder of the article can be read at http://www.thegospelforlife.org under the section of articles titled church renewal.)
Pastor Jay Wegter
Posted by: Jay Wegter | Apr 21, 2005 5:46:52 PM
Hey Rusty just wanted to say enjoyed your post especially "The trouble is that when you go back to the nets as Peter said, you will find that the world is no different. They inspect, intrud, prod and punch there too. Now you will have to add to that the Lord chasing you back to where He placed you, or at least that is what Jonah would say."
It put a smile on my face and made me say one hearty AMEN!
Posted by: Daniel Zepeda | Apr 21, 2005 8:58:46 PM
What are you talking about? Get the rod? Beat the people? I hate it when people on this blog put others down, however, you need to pray for God to change your heart.
You should consider leaving the ministry for I fear you have lost your love for the sheep under you care.
I mean are you serious? Tell me you were joking a little bit. Where is the compassion for the people?
Posted by: Jade | Apr 22, 2005 11:55:01 AM
Great question... here are my top answers:
1. they get fired.
2. they don't raise enough money in the offering.
3. They spend to much time preaching the Bible and not enough time making people feel better.
Posted by: Stop and Think | Apr 22, 2005 9:27:11 PM
I'd suggest that pastors read "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" by Kent Hughes, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL.
I appreciate the good thoughts expressed here.
Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 23, 2005 7:11:20 PM
Wow! Some good stuff. We have been out of "The Ministry" for 3 years. A wilderness brought on by much of what this brother shared.But for some reason I am asking God to get me 'Back in the Fight!" I am working as a banker full time, painting houses like I have for 15 years, and doing some pulpit supply. I still stuggle to provide for my family and would definately advice younger seminarians to have a good Trade or vocation to fall back on when you get tossed from a church. Some of the problem is with us and our lack of Holy Spirit filled living. We need to focus on our wives & children & be an example in the Word & Prayer, daily walking with God. One pastor use to say to me "If you can do anything else vocationally, Other than ministry, then do it!" If you can't then you know you are Called! Jesus said, "Follow Me...: Matt 4:17. That is all I am trying to do right now...
jc, Phil 1:6 Read the Hymns "Our Great Savior" & "What a Friend we have in Jesus"
Posted by: John C | Apr 24, 2005 12:45:53 AM
I left the parish ministry almost twenty years ago for a lot of the same reasons mentioned by Scott.
I ended up doing retail management, not exactly a haven for sanity or good behavior on the part of customers or amployees. But, when asked why I was in management, I often said that the church was a far more difficult occupation. Mean customers come and go, but they do not plant themselves as a group in front of you once a week, and they do not control your income.
Having developed some better boundaries over the years, and the Customer Service Head Tilt, I would probably find some sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in pastoring a local church. But the memories linger of a church board who met behind my back while I was vacation, only to meet me with a self-styled "review," a polite term for an attack on me personally that sealed the deal for me to move on with my life
Posted by: Cory | Apr 24, 2005 5:00:24 PM
"What are you talking about? Get the rod? Beat the people? I hate it when people on this blog put others down, however, you need to pray for God to change your heart.
You should consider leaving the ministry for I fear you have lost your love for the sheep under you care.
I mean are you serious? Tell me you were joking a little bit. Where is the compassion for the people?"
Yes, some of it was biting sarcasm, but the reality is I believe churches and Christians today need less lovin' from the pastor, and more correction. Christianity in America is fed by the consumer Gospel of "what have you done for me lately," and this desperately needs to be corrected. There is rampant bad theology. Overwhelming unrealistic expectations put upon a pastor. And I know this isn't popular to say here, but when a sheep bites you have to take the rod to it. Sheep need to know that attacking the shepherd (or other sheep for that matter) won't be tolerated. Leadership in our churches need to be firm about this because if the shepherd leaves the sheep scatter. I would rather lose a few sheep than see the entire flock hurt. THAT is real love for the people.
Posted by: Pastor Art | Apr 25, 2005 11:25:51 AM
Just remember that the Apostle Paul was thought by some people to be a failure. They criticized his ministry and even denied his apostleship. But his response was, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment . . . He that judgeth me is the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:3,4).
The next time any of you men, who have truly been called of God to be a minister of the Gospel, feel like you are a failure in the ministry -- ask yourself the question: By whose standards? Yours? Others? or God's?
Many times our judgments of what we're doing for the Lord are made upon standards other than divine ones. If some of the characters in God's Word had been judged by such standards, they would definitely be considered failures today. I mean you think of Noah, he preached for 120 years with little results.
I remember hearing the story of the great preacher, H.A. Ironside, who stood dejected at the front of the church where he had preached a powerful gospel message with no outward response. A mature believer noticed the discouraged preacher and said, "Remember, Harry, that the harvest is at the end of the world, not the end of the meeting."
We need to keep in mind that it is not our mission down here on earth to "succeed" except as we succeed in lifting up the name of Jesus.
Posted by: PK4LIFE | Apr 25, 2005 5:00:04 PM
To the hurt pastors:
I can hear the pain in your writing, I empathize. Know that I hurt with you. I can't thank you enough for you for your honesty.
Posted by: Pastor Mark | Apr 26, 2005 12:29:45 AM
I left the ministry 12 years ago for the ame reasons. I was so tired of being kicked while I was down I swore I would never return to the Pulpit again. Thankfully, God lead us to a Church where the Pastor understood sometimes the Church needs to be a hospital and a place to hide so that healing can come. God is gracious. It took many years to heal. I am so thankful for the truth of Romans 11:29 "God gifts and call are irrevocable". He is slowly moving me back into a place of ministry.
My prayer is that Scott and all those who have been beaten, abused and kicked while they were down will be lead to a place of healing and hiding. REMEMBER when you feel like saying "I have had enough, Lord", He will send and Angel to minister to you, to give you rest and to feed you (1st Kings 19:1-9).
I thank you for all you do and for all you have been through. I pray for each one of you. May God Bless You And May His Face Always Shine On You. You are a special and chosen people, don't YOU ever forget that.
Posted by: Mike M. | Apr 26, 2005 8:55:42 PM
Another excellent resource in addition to Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, is the book Before You Quit/When Ministry is Not What You Thought by Blaine Allen.
Posted by: Steve | Apr 27, 2005 9:03:06 AM
I served the church for fifteen years and has just left because i can no longer deal with this monster that is everything but what God wants it to be. I believe there is a body of Christ that is the saints walking in a relationship with Jesus. The true church. my family and I dont go to "church". In order to be the church we had to leave the church. Thank you scott. Daniel Zapeda I have to speak the truth in love. To you i have to say (Your comments implies that the many hurting pastors are just carnal and they need to just get real with God. Arrogantly it undermines their reeality and questions their integrity. We are not complaining because we are winers no Sir we just wan to be real after many years of manipulation,abuse and control. We dont want to pretend anylongr.
Posted by: Andre Abrahams | May 29, 2005 5:25:32 PM
In reading over the long list of comments, I notice how they seesaw between, "He's not Christian enouth" and "Poor guy." I've had the same mixed emotions about my presence in and practice of pastoral ministry for 25 years.
My current position isn't bad by any means. The people are, for the most part, kind and loving. My problem is, I'm not a visionary, and I've been feeling they need that sort to lead them. If they don't get somebody like that before much longer, well, I'm afraid things might turn ugly.
Please pray for me. I've been at this thing for a quarter of a century. I hardly know what I'd do or where I'd go if I left the pulpit. I'm tired and I hurt and I'm afraid.
Posted by: Gary | May 31, 2005 11:22:36 AM
"Leadership in our churches need to be firm about this because if the shepherd leaves the sheep scatter. I would rather lose a few sheep than see the entire flock hurt. THAT is real love for the people." Pastor Art.
Please...it is God's business to discipline HIS children, not our's. What example are you being that you feel you are the authority on God's children? Did you die for them? I know this, I'd DIE under your tuleage. People are fragile and abusive treatment can drive them over the edge. It hurts me just to hear you speak this way.
Your tribe must be increasing as more people are growing up and refusing to have a bully for a pastor...they'd rather sit home and study alone and send their money where they choose than support this kind of teaching. Heaven help all of us if you aren't kidding.
Posted by: Eight | Jul 13, 2005 6:34:36 PM
Whoops...the last post was in response to
"Is all this harsh? Yes. Sheep need less lovin' and more beatin' with the rod. The need correction, rebuke, and exhortation. The day of "nice pastor" is over.
Men and women of God. Get real. Get the rod. Go to work!!!" Quote from Pastor Art
Posted by: Eight | Jul 13, 2005 6:38:05 PM
"I hardly know what I'd do or where I'd go if I left the pulpit. I'm tired and I hurt and I'm afraid."
Too many stay in ministry because it's the only job they've had or could get... not a good reason at all... quite bad, actually...
Posted by: bernie dehler | Jul 13, 2005 8:07:40 PM
I am a pastors wife. right now I feel like killing myself. Iwant to support my husband and I know this is what
God wants for me but I have no one to talk to about the pressures of the ministry let alone the issues with my children. . .I really don't know if I can take anymore!
Posted by: AM | Jul 21, 2005 7:10:18 PM
I'm very concerned for you... and have posted your email on a new posting you can check out here:
There are many people here, including some wonmen, who have been where you are right now, and we'd like to encourage you in the Lord. Hang in there!
Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Jul 21, 2005 9:13:14 PM
You are not alone. I serve as the director for the association for battered clergy. Yes, there is such an organization. We help clergy all the time. But I too, serve as a pastor. This 'directorship' sounds important. What it is, is one damned fool trying to help another damned fool survive this insanity called the ministry.
Call me cynical - but this is what the church will do to a soul. I have studied God, Theology, the Bible, church history and polity - and did so at one of the finest schools of theological training in this country. Not only that - I went back for a SECOND Masters degree in Theology. But honestly, it took working in the church to learn about evil.
And it is the spirit of evil, working in and through the very people who stand up and praise Jesus on Sunday morning - that is killing the church. It is killing the church by virtue of killing the shepherds - then scattering the flock. To give you some startling statistics from our 'resource group,'
These from the bureau of labor and statistics, U.S. Govt. as of 2000
90% of ALL students leaving seminary, will never stay in ministry long enough to retire. 80% of students finishing seminary who enter the pulpit ministry, will leave within the first five years of service. 89% of pastor's wifes (in a survey) responded that the most destructive thing that has happened in their marriage is the day they entered the ministry. From 1970 - 1995, 47,567 Roman Catholic Priests voluntarily surrendered their credentials due to stress and burnout. And just this today in USA Today - for the first time in History - not one Priest was ordained in the country of Ireland last year. And comments from pastors still left in the field, but too old to do anything else and too young to retire - "The biggest regret I have is that I did not leave sooner. I have no choice now but to just hang on until retirement. But my biggest regret for staying in beyond reason is that my grown children now want nothing to do with the church. They've seen too much of what was done to me and to them by the people who claim to love Jesus."
This carnage of clergy burnout is coming not from the bloody hands of radical Islamic terrorists - the destruction is not coming from Athiests or any other radical groups.
The carnage of broken ministries and burnout is coming right from the very people we serve. And it is only getting worse with each passing year.
It should be obvious to all by now that I too am burnt out. I readily admit that. Just look what 15 years in the ministry has done to the original call and vision. But thank God I have an exit plan that I will execute in farily short order.
Fully half the people I was ordained with less than ten years ago - have since left the ministry. I'm not far behind. But not so dense as to escape without a parachute.
Posted by: Rev. Kanipe | Aug 11, 2005 10:45:32 PM
I can relate to this brother after being on the Mission field for 10 years. Some of the comments made are kind of harsh and legalistic, it seems many times there are more devils in the church that outside. I feel much better now that I am not a part of all the politics of ministry. Your story made me laugh because I could relate to everything that was said. God Bless
Posted by: Brad | Aug 15, 2005 11:45:05 PM
Author Scott says:
"we are tired of pretending that we cannot be hurt."
Why all the pretending? Pretending about anything will get exhausting. You need to find a way to be real, while staying polite. You don't need to be a friend to all people at all times; our role-model Jesus wasn't!
"Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it." One of the experts in the law answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also." Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."
Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Aug 22, 2005 2:25:12 AM
WOW! I have read many of the responses to the post and I have noticed three categories of individuals. 1) Those who are hurt and bitter. 2) Those who are who have forgiven and are compassionate. 3) Those who are judgemental and harsh.
I am a former pastor (10 years) who certainly had his ups and downs. I experienced the joy of church growth, lives changed, families saved and son on. I also experienced the death of beloved saints, faithful couples going through divorce and counseling parents whose kids got hooked on drugs. And I also experienced the harsh words and constant critisism of church members.
In 1999, after 13 years of marriage, I left my wife for another woman. I won't waste this blog space with all details or reasons and excuses, but it just happened. I instantly saw a church that loved me greatly, turn from and hate me as a general body. I quit going to church for six months and turned to the ravaging sins of the flesh.
What is interesting, not only did the church members turn from me, so did the pastors. I never had anyone come to help me (I don't know if I would have listened), I never had anyone put their arms around me and try to nurture back on the right road. I never had anyone say it was going to be okay, let's get through this together. Therefore, I went further away. Fortunately, God did not give-up on me.
To make a long story a little shorter. I got back in church, with my new wife, we repented of our sins, drew closer than we had ever been, and began to serve in church on the other side of the pulpit. That is when my real lessons began. Many things came into persepctive.
I saw battles I had fought as a pastor that weren't worth fighting. I saw more members loved the pastor, than gave the pastor a hard time. I saw the mean are just louder than the good. More than anything, God began to teach me forgiveness. I HAD to forgive the church. I had to forgive those who had hurt me AND I had to forgive myself for what I had done.
Out of this grew a ministry called 70x7 "Forgive to Live". I still have a secular job, which I hate, my passion for vocational ministry. I blew that when I decided to be selfish. But I do believe God is going to put me back into vocational ministry. Why? Because I have learned what forgiveness really is. I have learned that it is non-optional. I have learned that you have to forgive to live.
Please, pastors! If God has put a call on your life to minister, RECONSIDER before you leave. You will not find happiness anywhere if your change is motivated by bitterness and hurt! IT WILL NOT HAPPEN! God has made me a more compassionate person and a more thoughtful person, but a part of my joy still escapes me (6 years later) because I left God's first call on my life.
God bless you Scott and all those who are hurting, there is hope. You can e-mail me anytime or visit my web site at www.70timesseven.com.
Posted by: Bryan | Aug 31, 2005 12:08:07 PM
My burden is easy, my yoke is light. Are the words that come to me. I know for my husband I've seen him try to do alot with his own strentgh & his own energy. Being a pastor requires living in the presence of God through prayer and the Word of God. The Spirit of God makes us successful ministers. As pastors we're not suppose to be friends to everyone or they won't respect you when it comes time to correct or admonish them. Always expect your reward from God. Lastly never look for recognition
for all the blood , sweat & tears from the people or you'll always be disappointed.
Posted by: Sonia | Sep 16, 2005 5:54:05 PM
The search process has made me want to quie many many times. I have never been more weary in ministry then now as I am interviewed, poked, and proded and often feel like a peice of meat. I am more than a resume and a series of accomplishments; I am a man who has given my life to the Lord and served Him with all I am. I just want to be at a church that treats me like a man, and not like a "candidate".
Posted by: Joe Miller | Sep 17, 2005 12:35:36 AM