10 of the Most Dangerous Distractions for a Pastor

Unfortunately, so many who used to be pastors, but no longer hold the position. Many of them fell into what I call a dangerous distractions for a pastor.

Sometimes it isn’t a blatant sin. Often it is a casual drifting that gets pastors in trouble. Often it is simply a distraction from what matters most.

I can’t address everything that gets in the way of being a healthy pastor, but there are more common ones in my experience.

10 dangerous distractions for a pastor:

Neglecting your soul. One of my mentors reminds me, “Ron, don’t forget to feed your own soul.” When he says it I know it is gold. One danger for a pastor is operating out of stored up knowledge or experience with God. We need fresh encounters with truth and His glory.

Sacrificing family. Ministry families are accustomed to interruptions, but families learn to resent the ministry when it always trumps family time. There are countless pastors with adult children that no longer want anything to do with the church. From what I’ve been told, there’s not a much greater hurt for someone who devoted their life to ministry.

Playing the numbers game. Whenever we put the emphasis on numbers we are always disappointed. They will never be high enough. God is in charge of the numbers. We must be careful to concentrate on making disciples and the numbers will take care of themselves.

Comparing ministries. There will always be a “bigger” ministry. Someone will always write a better tweet — or a better book – or a better blog post – preach a better sermon. Comparing distracts us from the ministry we’ve been God-appointed to lead.

Finding affirmation among the rebels. We must be careful not to get distracted by people who would complain regardless of the decision we make. It stings the way some people talk to a pastor, but what if Joshua had listened to the naysayers? Or Nehemiah? What if Moses had given up every time the complainers were louder than the people willing to follow?

If you are leading there will always be someone that is not happy with the decisions you make. People bent on pleasing others – more even than pleasing God – have a very hard time finding peace and joy in ministry.

Sacrificing truth for popularity. It’s easy to preach the easy stuff. Grace messages are pleasant to share and popular to receive. And we need them. Where sin increases grace should increase all the more. But we need truth. Even when it is unpopular. Making disciples becomes impossible when we sacrifice either one – truth or grace.

Stealing glory. My mama used to say “that boy got too big for his britches”. Sadly it can happen in ministry also. Many pastors struggle with ego problems. God is never honored when we make ourselves to be anything other than a God-glorifying position.

Poor boundaries. The enemy enjoys a door of opportunity. I know too many pastors who fell into a trap because they didn’t have healthy boundaries in place. This is especially true in dealing with the opposite sex.

Neglecting friendships. Most pastors struggle knowing who to trust, but because of this they have few people really get to know them. Therefore, they often have no one who can speak into the dark places of their life. Some pastors put on a good front, but inside they struggle alone. It’s dangerous.

Abusing power. The pastor holds a certain amount of power just based on position. One of the more dangerous things I see churches doing these days is giving a pastor too much power, without enough built-in personal accountability. (That’s coming from a church planter’s heart – and one who is prone to lead strong.)

By the way, I’m not for controlling the pastor or forced relational accountability, but there needs to be one which balances pastoral authority and personal accountability. And the healthiest goal is for the pastor or ministry leader to build their own system of accountability into their life.

Those are some that I have seen. These distractions are displayed in a number of ways – and all of them are not fatal thankfully – but all of them are real. And all of them are dangerous.

Check out our leadership podcast where we unpack issues like this in a practical way.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • Mark Triplett says:

    As a preacher friend of mine says, “If you can’t say amen, say ouch.” A few of these hit close!

    Thanks Ron, good words to remember.

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