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12 Ways to”Shoot Yourself in the Foot” as a Pastor

Want to “shoot yourself in the foot” as a pastor?

Hopefully, through this blog and my conference speaking I have established myself as someone that loves pastors. I came into vocational ministry mid-career and it gave me a unique perspective on the role. I want pastors to succeed.

Of course, no one would intentionally cripple their ministry, but I have seen some ways pastors get into trouble if they aren’t careful. This is a light-hearted post, but it has serious ramifications. 

12 ways to shoot yourself in the foot as a pastor:

Do life alone, trust no one and have no “real” friends.

Question everyone’s motive in the church.

Don’t learn or get to know know key stakeholders in the church.

Constantly compare the success (or lack there of) your ministry to other ministries.

Refuse any outside critique or evaluation.

Keep your family life always second to the church.

Take personal pride in numbers.

Believe you have to do everything, be everywhere and never say “no”.

Spend time with God only when preparing for a message.

Ignore the warning signs of burnout.

Pretend you’re good when you’re not. Always protect your image.

Ignore personal health.

Pastors, what would you add?

(Obviously, I’m praying you recognize the sarcasm and do the opposite of each of these. If you need help, please reach out.)

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Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Drew says:

    How about these:
    – shut your eyes to the talents of others in the congregation
    – equate "growing the church" with "growing the Kingdom"

  • @city316 says:

    Many would love to apply these valid points to pastors, but actually they are points for every believer to be considering! The bar for believers should be raised a lot higher.

  • Lee C. says:

    Great list. I have taken the list and made questions out of them for reflecting on my purpose:

    Glorifying God
    Making disciples
    Equipping the church for the work of service

    Am I doing life alone? What does the evidence say?
    How does my behavior affect my ability to glorify God? to help me make disciples? to build up the church?

    Do I question everyone's motive? What does the evidence say?
    How does my behavior affect my ability to glorify God? to help me make disciples? to build up the church?

    Thanks for sharing the post.

  • •Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
    •Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
    •Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
    •Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
    •Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
    •Becoming jealous easily
    •Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
    •Being obsessed with oneself
    •Pursuing mainly selfish goals
    •Trouble keeping healthy relationships
    •Becoming easily hurt and rejected
    •Setting goals that are unrealistic
    •Wanting "the best" of everything
    •Appearing unemotional

  • Derek

    Have a personal vision over a corporate one.

    Desire personal sucess over the success of others.

    Pray more for own needs than those of others.

  • Not seeking truth in the criticisms of others and letting them become learning experiences that either promote positive change in your ministry or validate what you are already doing.

  • Though I am not a pastor, I believe that most of these points are applicable to any leader. Some add-ons:

    ~ Refusing to let go of the status-quo
    ~ Following "Head-in-the-sand" philosophy fearing to face a problem
    ~ Surrounding oneself with intellectual dwarfs rather than geniuses in order to ensure supremacy
    ~ Chasing title, positions, etc rather than making a real difference

  • I would add that most of these points hold true for members of management inside most companies.

  • Caleb says:

    I would add, -Focus on keeping people "happy" instead of preaching truth.