“If you do not love your pastor, take that as a sign of something amiss inside you.”
When I asked Facebook friends for ways to find disappointment in a pastor, we were swamped with responses. (Read the first 10 sure-fire ways to drive away your pastor here.) Apparently, everyone knows ways to put down the preacher.
So, here are 10 more pointers to (ahem) help readers conclude that their pastor is a loser and should exit the church so that hot shots like you can bring in a real God-called minister. (Can you tell this is tongue-in-cheek?)
“Therefore, also, we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9).
That’s the preacher’s assignment. Yours, too, church member. Okay, let’s cut to the chase …
1. Expect the pastor to be in the office all the time.
“I ran by the church to see the preacher and he wasn’t there. The secretary said, ‘I don’t know where he is. He never tells me anything!’”
“He says he’s visiting in the hospitals and nursing homes, but there’s no way to prove it. Someone saw him at the gym the other day!”
“He claims to study until 10 o’clock every morning, and takes appointments after that. But, I’m a charter member of this church. I shouldn’t have to have an appointment to see my pastor!”
When I hear someone criticizing the pastor in this way, I respond, “Do you want a hireling or a shepherd? A hireling accounts to you for every hour. A shepherd does whatever is necessary to care for the flock, even laying down his or her life for the sheep.”
2. Put great demands on his spouse.
“His wife is a nurse and works at the hospital on weekends from time to time. This is unacceptable.”
“He doesn’t discipline his children the way I think he should.”
“The last pastor’s wife we had was active in all phases of church work and played the piano. This one just works in the nursery.”
A friend in denominational leadership says a deacon told him they planned to fire the pastor because his wife does not smile. He suggested the deacons should all be fired because they do not pray for their preacher.
When I overhear someone criticizing the pastor’s spouse, if possible, I will butt in and say, “So, how much are you paying her? You clearly think she’s accountable to you.”
3. Expect the pastor’s sermons to be home runs every time.
“I know he was out all night with that family at the hospital, but the sermon the next morning was awful. That is no excuse.”
“Oh, he’s pretty good much of the time. But he can preach some of the poorest sermons you’ve ever heard, and one time when the mayor was present.”
In baseball, the batter who connects with the ball 30 percent of the time will be an all-star. Only in the ministry do people expect perfection every time the pastor steps to the plate.
4. Withhold your tithes, then blame him or her when the offerings are down.
“I’m not giving my offerings there. I don’t agree with that preacher!”
When someone says that in my presence, I smile at them kindly and say, ever so gently, “Then where are you putting your offerings?” I know the answer. They’ve found an excuse to keep them for themselves. And when this one is used up, Satan will provide more reasons to withhold their tithes.
This is a favorite tactic found on page 23 of “Hell’s Manual for Undermining God’s Servant.” Keep back the Lord’s tithes and offerings, then when the church gets in financial trouble, point out that this is a sure sign the pastor has lost the confidence of the church and needs to be replaced.
5. Never forget or forgive some mistake (real or imagined) the pastor made.
“I can never get over the time the pastor chose to stay at that denominational meeting when my daddy was at the point of death and our family needed him.”
(Oh, that was 12 years ago.)
“I lost all confidence in him when his daughter gave birth out of wedlock. The Bible says if a man can’t lead his family, he shouldn’t try to lead the church.”
When I hear someone holding an old grievance against the preacher, I think, “Friend, you’d better be showing some mercy if you expect to receive any from the Lord!”
6. Expect the pastor to do everything the church requires, from cutting the grass to driving the church bus.
“We don’t need a grounds committee. The preacher can repair the plumbing. Lord knows he has the time.”
“I recall driving past the church back when [someone else] was our pastor, and he would be trimming the hedges or painting the sign. But our present pastor is too good for that.”
When I hear pastors criticized this way, I ask if the previous pastor enjoyed yard work. Perhaps he loved it. Well, the present pastor clearly has other skills. My pastor friend Dr. L. H. McCollough loved to crawl under cars and tear down engines. Not me! My minister friend Freddie Arnold can build a house for you. I would not know where to start.
7. Get offended when the sermon hits close to home.
“I know we told him we wanted him to preach on sin, but I didn’t mean my sins!”
“He preached on the sanctity of life knowing full well that [so-and-so’s] daughter had had an abortion a few years back. I was so embarrassed for them.”
Church members can be so unfair. The old joke about someone telling the preacher, “You really got them told today—if they’d only been here!” is no joke. It’s the beam-in-the-eye syndrome our Lord spoke of in Matthew 7, and it’s present in every church.
8. Demand that he or she not meddle in local issues.
“I know the church should be the leader in moral issues, but not everyone agrees that the races should be mixing. We have people in our church who feel strongly that those other people are our moral inferiors.”
“When the school board was considering a policy excluding prayers from public events, the preacher brought a sermon on it, knowing full well that Mrs. Shankers was sitting in front of him. She’s been on the school board for years. She was so offended and may never be back.”
“People go to church for peace and quiet, not to be assaulted with the same stuff they get on the news.”
Those demanding that the pastor go mute concerning local issues are asking something the Lord does not. True, the minister needs to be wise in his stance and gracious toward the people, but where God has spoken clearly on a matter, he or she is on solid ground speaking out.
9. Interrupt him with your problem just before he gets up to preach, then criticize him because he never has time for you.
“Oh, he had plenty of time. They could have started the service without him. No, he just doesn’t love us the way the last pastor did.”
“When I called the office to see if I could run by and talk to him, they said he was out playing golf. The world is going to hell, and he’s playing golf. The former pastor never played golf.”
Funny how we can judge our pastors so unfairly, demanding that they drop whatever they are doing and cater to our needs. By disrespecting the pastor, it is important to know that we are disrespecting the one who sent him or her. See Matthew 10:40-42 and Luke 10:16.
10. Finally, when all else fails and you cannot find a good reason to oust the pastor, try these old reliables …
“He’s been here too long.”
“Her sermons are stale.”
“It’s time for new leadership.”
“He’s not a good fit for our church.”
These are all weak excuses, of course. And you remember what Vance Havner called an excuse: “The skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”
Honor the pastor, friend, and you honor the Lord who sent him or her. Is that too strong a statement? Then take it up with the Master.
If you love your pastor, then please—please!—stand up and say so. Show it by your faithfulness in church, in your service, giving and praying, and voice it in your casual conversation.
If you do not love your pastor, take that as a sign of something amiss inside you. If constant prayer does not solve the matter, consider one of these: a) Consult with the godliest, most mature believer in the church, b) Go see the pastor himself and confess it, asking his help; or c) Make an appointment with a professional pastoral counselor and get his or her advice.
Whatever you do, do not remain neutral, on the sidelines, uninvolved. Your Lord and his church need you to give your all. Do that, and the pastor will be honored, I assure you.
Joe McKeever spent 42 years pastoring six Southern Baptist churches and has been writing and cartooning for religious publications for more than 40 years. This article was originally published on McKeever’s blog.