7 Truths about Pastors Who Disappoint You

I wrote recently about another fallen pastor. I shared how devastated I was at the news.

I’ve been amazed at some of the rude comments I’ve received. And, I love that this is my blog and I can delete them if I want to. It’s like they never read my post about Christians being less mean online. 🙂

Seriously, though, some people seem to think pastors are supposed to be super humans. Sure, pastors are held more responsible in the eyes of God for how we lead in the church, but we aren’t any better –or more equipped — at living a victorious Christian life than any other Christian. It’s all grace. It’s all a work of His Spirit. Apart from Him I can do nothing. And, whenever I stop submitting my will to His will — I fail. Every time. (One guy commented that since I said something like that in my previous post that I must be hiding an affair also. What? I deleted that comment.)

I think the undue pressure on pastors is one of the leading causes of pastor burnout. And, ultimately complete failure. And, granted, much of this is self-induced pressure. I admit that. And, no that is not an excuse. Sin is sin. Sin is a horrible offense to a Holy God. All sin. And all have sinned. And fall short of His glory. (That was my last sermon series by the way.)

I received lots of positive feedback also, but, like us pastors often do, I couldn’t get past the few negatives to celebrate all the positives. (I wrote a blog post about this problem some pastors — and others — seem to have.)

So, it led to this post. Just some random thoughts about pastors. Especially those who disappoint you. And me. Because I’ve been disappointed by pastors too. Shoot, I’ve been disappointed in myself.

Let me share a few things you may not know about pastors. Seven things to be exact.

Because I like the number seven.

And, let me be clear. I’m not taking this lightly. Sometimes I write more light-hearted to balance the extremes of those who seem to have forgotten how to even smile. And, yes, I think we are to rejoice — find joy — even in the midst of suffering. Because I read that somewhere.

To the contrary. Times like this, when another pastor falls, always reminds me of the horribleness of sin. It always causes me to look inward again at my own life. (And, that’s never a bad thing to do — “Search me God” — as David prayed.)

But, there are some things you need to know about pastors.

7 truths about pastors who disappoint you

One person, working on behalf of self, can’t destroy the work of the Holy Spirit, working on behalf of God. Your pastor may disappoint you, but that ultimately can’t destroy the work God began in you — even through the pastor’s teaching. You may be stunned for now, but you’ll grow back stronger if you continue to surrender to His will.

Pastors — and even a local body — come and go. But the church — Christ’s body — is here to stay. God WILL protect His church.

People will deceive you — even some pastors. But God’s Word will never fail you. Ask yourself — who are you extending ultimate trust to anyway?

Pastors lead. I write about it consistently on this blog. I believe God uses people to lead his church. But ultimately they aren’t in control. God is. He WILL have the final word.

Just because we preach truth, doesn’t meant we’ve always mastered it. We are still being sanctified too. Isn’t that why we need a Savior? And, why the pastor isn’t your Savior?

Pastors are often skilled at acting like everything is okay — even when it isn’t. You’ve fooled others before — right? So has your pastor. Some pastors have this false idea that we are supposed to keep you from seeing that we are human. Almost like it was seminary trained into us. (BTW, if I was supposed to get that in seminary — I didn’t.)

A pastor is less likely to be transparent with unpredictable outcomes. If they doubt the grace you’ll extend, they’ll be less likely to share their deepest struggles. We’ve almost created a system that makes it difficult for the pastor to have failings. And, yes, again, much of this is self-induced pressure.

We need help. All pastors do. All people do. We need people who truly care. Who can accept us flaws and all. Who will love us on days we are doing everything right and days we seem to do everything wrong. People who will call a sin a sin before it reaches the magnitude that destroys other people’s lives, damages our greater witness, and hurts the Kingdom work we felt called to do. And, isn’t that a primary purpose of the church — making disciples? We need the church too.

That’s my seven. Okay eight. But, sometimes we miscount too. Even on Sundays 🙂 We aren’t perfect. And, there. Told you. Random. But, you need to know.

So I’ll stop there for now.

How’s that for honesty?

Now, again, none of this is aimed as an excuse. It’s just for transparency.

What are other random facts about pastors others may not know?

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24 thoughts on “7 Truths about Pastors Who Disappoint You

  1. Because of my military background (being moved around) I have had several pastors. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not necessarily in my church, but in a sister church or in a church across town, or even in another work in a neighboring state. Except in the rare case where a man was obviously in the pulpit only for money, or prestige, or power, or some other nefarious reason I have always grieved over a fallen pastor. I have seen some be lifted up far beyond what God's intent was ever meant to be (I know God has a pastor's crown, so God obviously holds them in high regard.), and they began to believe the press reports. And I have seen others so burdened with responsibility that the weight they bore almost crushed them. Some likely failed because of a lack of prayer support. (I wonder how many pastor's have even 50% of their members faithfully praying for them and their families- by name- on a consistent, daily basis?) I knew one great man who had to hold two jobs, and his wife had to work because the flock felt he should make a meager salary. (That one has a great ending, though there were some very distressing and trying times, and a vicious church split.) For me, I've always felt that I knew very little, was worth not much, had only a bit to offer, BUT I could pray, and love, and support my pastor. Granted, even in that I have failed a time or two. But pastor's are the primary torch bearers, and Christianity's over two thousand year propagation has been primarily carried out by pastors. So even the fallen should have the dignity of respect, and not be ravaged viciously by what resembles a pack of dogs. They should also be held accountable, and their sin not glossed over because they are a pastor. I am only a layman, and then not a very attractive, affluent, or influential one so thank you for allowing me to post. I hope I have added something to this thread. If not, forgive me. The story of Koree, and he and his family being swallowed up by the earth after he tried to usurp Moses' authority (I heard that story preached when I was a month old Christian) has always been at the forefront of my thoughts in regards to how I treat my pastor, wether in his company or in the company of others who were discussing him.

  2. A great article. One point often forgotten in today’s church is that one person was never meant to do it all himself….

    ‘How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification’. (I Corinthians 14:26)

    How many churches actually live this out today? The pastor was never meant to do it all. Today’s church expects that he should and when he doesn’t do it the way we expect or want him to, rather than stepping up and helping, we complain.

  3. All pastors wrestle with insecurity. Those who lean into their identity in Christ may find the grace and resources needed to survive while those who don't probably won't.

  4. Thanks for such a thoughtful and gracious response to those tasteless comments, Ron. I've been grateful for the delete button on my blog a few times, too. The internet has a way of making everyone feel like their comments are valid, no matter how thoughtless, cruel or off-topic they may be. The good news is, they inspired you to write this post, which will help a lot of pastors and church members.

  5. "Pastors are often skilled at acting like everything is okay — even when it isn’t"

    So true. Even for the young pastors ((like me). Admit your struggles and share them lead people to conclude that your call is not a real one.
    "You should be strong , a rock, so that we all can rely on you." I heard some day

    but I read in the Bible
    "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone"
    Ephesians 2 : 20


    Thank you Rod. Your posts are really helpful.

  6. Thank you so much for this thoughtful post which illustrates some truths that everyone can relate to. It sickens me how some especially in social media can be so hateful. They forget that words can wound others deeply. We can disagree with others without being disagreeable or attacking someone's character. Treat others with the respect you want to be treated with. Join me in praying for our Pastors.

  7. Ron,
    Terrific article on grace and forgiveness. My question is, is the present format of laity and elders presented still working as a model for a church? The New Testament made no distinctions between the two, meaning that within the context these two groups acts interchangeably and without ruling one over the other. Have we lost our way with this model? How are teachable moments only given to those that is called pastor and in essence putting them on a spiritual pedestal? Again, when we allow men to lead our hearts and mind to God instead of the Holy Spirit I find trouble is not to far behind. This endemic problem seems to raise its ugly head in megachurches. When a persons personality is superseding Christ's work that should be a warning sign. That I feel is the epidemic of the churches today. The New Testament did not promote pastors as leaders with no accountability. They were guides. Have we lost our way on what church is today? If you say Bob Coy as a guide instead of a spiritual monolith would it hurt so bad? Praying Ron, you also stay grounded and continue God's work!

    • Our present church model is more reflective of a Western business model than what is presented in the New Testament. There is always a plurality of leaders that guide a church in the Bible, not a lone person sitting at the top of the organizational chart. This latter model might move faster but can ultimately lead to an abuse of power and preoccupation with control. Team-based leadership can lead to humility and an open-handed approach. Is it any wonder that most churches prefer a "great man" to lead them…and, in essence, be their savior?

  8. Ron, you touched on this but it's worth being super-clear: So many times we extend grace to those on the outside, yet withhold it from those on the inside. If grace is sufficient, then it must be sufficient for all, even pastors–like me–who blow it. Oftentimes, it is for everyone except those who need it the most.

  9. I can attest to #1 – Years ago my wife served at a church where to say there was sin in the camp would be an understatement. Yet my relationship with Jesus grew deeper. I met and married my wife. God's grace is sufficient.

    And I remind our congregation all the time the number one person I preach to each week is me. Just like them, I desperately need God to show up in my life everyday.

  10. Once again, right on point. It's no wonder the the world watches as the Christian community bashes itself and thinks, "No thanks, I don't really see anything there that appeals to me." Thank you!

  11. Ron, I am good friends with your sister and serve on staff with your brother in law. I see it this way, God has placed an incredible call on ministers and Satan wants nothing more than to taint their testimony. He will use any way necessary to knock them out of the abundant life that God has called them to. He uses infidelity and moral failure in most instances because it causes others in the church to doubt themselves. I battle everyday with Satan and I have determined that he will not deter me from what God has called me to do! He tempts me, but he will not win! Thanks for all you do for the kingdom!!!

  12. Love the point/quote, "Pastors lead…but ultimately God is in control." Great thoughts…thank you for sharing. I will share to help others.