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7 Frustrating Things Pastors Experience

Ron – What do you think are some of the most frustrating things pastors experience?

This post, and the opposite one before it, (7 Exciting Things Pastors Experience) began when I received this question on my blog.

Great question. I decided to first address some of the exciting things but like most jobs, there are frustrating things about the job. Leadership deals with people – different people, with different expectations, demands and opinions. Anytime there are differences in people there will be frustrations. This is true even among people who love each other greatly.

The actual question was about what is “most frustrating”. I had to think about the question. There are lots of little things which can frustrate me. I don’t understand why some people leave a room and don’t turn out the lights, or how someone would ever put a toilet paper roll on which unfolds from the bottom. Those are small examples – not “most frustrating”.

I should first mention I’m sharing frustrations, but I am not frustrated. Fact is, I love the local church and I love my church. Every church is filled with imperfect people, but our mission is God-inspired, God-given and supposed to be God-glorifying.

With this disclosure, here is my reply of some of my most frustrating things I see as a pastor.

7 most frustrating things pastors experience:

People who abuse their power or position.

I have witnessed this first hand where I have pastored, but even more so in churches where friends have been pastor. For example, I know a couple of churches where a few people in the church are literally controlling the church and causing potentially irreversible damage.

It always bothers me for people to abuse power, but even more so when it happens in the church. This includes, of course, when the pastor abuses power. Abuse of power is wrong regardless of who is doing so. Ultimately, we are to follow Christ, but sometimes we can let positions and power get in the way of humility and obedience.

People who live opposite lives in and out of the church.

It is frustrating to me when people who have one church face and one community face. This gives the church a bad name. Many of my unchurched friends won’t come to church because they know someone who comes to church already. And they aren’t impressed. They know the person in the office on Monday morning is not the person who claims to be so wonderful on Sunday morning.

I should say, I’m not referring to new Christians, and certainly not those who are attending, but not yet believers. I’m talking about those who claim a history with truth, but don’t exhibit truth in the way they live their life. They would shout amen to “love one another” while sitting in the pew, but their actions outside the walls of the church say otherwise.

Rumors which spread with no basis of truth.

How many times have I been caught in the middle of this one? I once had to dispel a rumor I was going to tear down the church’s steeple. Personally, I’m not a fan of tradition for tradition, but I sorta like our steeple. Granted, our building looks very “churchy” – and, this can be an initial barrier to people coming. This is possibly where rumors start, because I’ve said similar before, but this means we must meet and embrace people outside the church, inviting them to join us. It never meant demolition. Rumors like spread rapidly in the right environment.

This is a minor example. When the rumors involve other people they can be very damaging to character and reputation. Gossip destroys a person’s witness.


People who want what they want, even at the expense and inconvenience of others. These are people who will allow their personal preference to interfere with carrying out the ultimate mission of the church. Some people guard “their seats”, protect “their programs”, complain about any change that makes them uncomfortable.

This one probably frustrates me because it has never seemed very biblical to me. I certainly can’t find it in Scriptures.

Tradition for the sake of tradition.

Again, I’m not against tradition per se. I like meeting at a set time every week, for example. I love giving and receiving gifts at Christmas – let’s not stop this one. But I get frustrated with tradition which is adhered to only because of tradition especially if it gets in the way of making disciples.

If it’s biblical I’ll be the biggest proponent for it, but if it’s simply because we’ve always done it this way I get frustrated with those who insist it never be changed, even if it is no longer effective in fulfilling the mission of the church.

Wasting time.

I’m on a mission. A number of years ago God called me out of the business world and into full-time vocational ministry. In the business world we knew we had no time to waste. Our livelihoods depended on effecient use of time and resources.

Now in ministry, I have a keen sense time is short and it moves faster than I can fathom. I don’t want to waste precious Kingdom-time debating issues which simply don’t matter or doing activity which has little Kingdom impact.


Perhaps, I share this one with Jesus. He called it being lukewarm. I sense it when the Spirit of God is obviously active in the room, but people who have claimed to be Christians for years look at me as if it’s a typical Sunday.

This appears when people are more concerned if the rules were followed than they are excited about lives which are changing. I notice it when people choose to get involved only when it’s convenient for their schedule. Plus, I sense it when someone has been in the church for many years, but hasn’t grown deeper and more passionately in love with Christ than when they began attending.

Some days I wish we were a ballgame – with bleachers – and a favorite team. Then maybe they’d get excited.

So, there’s my honest list.

Let me share again, I love the local church. I was convicted years ago that I must love the people of the local church – even if someone or something someone does frustrates me. In my heart and work, I strive to do so.

Also, a word to my fellow pastors, I know when I am allowing frustrations to control me more than what the Spirit of God wants to do in and through me I need to take a break, rest, and renew my soul.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • Dick Smith says:

    The activities and traditions of a church will take the place of growing in Christ for members if we allow them to. Keeping Christ out front and following him into what we think will be uncomfortable helps us rediscover that first awesome realization of who Christ really is and what he offers us. We need to meet people where they are and find out that they are the beloved too. Our faith is more likely to grow outside the building.8