“Pastor, I love you. I want nothing more than for you to be all who God wants you to be. So this might hurt a little.”
I love you. I want nothing more than for you to be all who God wants you to be. So this might hurt a little.
I’m writing you this letter because I have noticed a few things that we have fallen into saying or doing that don’t represent Christ well.
With all due respect, please stop:
1. Stop pretending you are perfect.
Jesus is perfect. You aren’t. Let us see your humanity. Share your mistakes with us. It gives us hope to know that even the pastor doesn’t always get it right. It also gives us the courage to be honest about our faults, too.
2. Stop emotionally and spiritually abusing your staff.
Although some elements of the church are like a business, church staff should not be treated just like employees. They are family. They aren’t perfect, but you need to love them anyway.
When you hurt them, you hurt God’s family. I know far too many pastors who need therapy after the wounds of working for a bad boss.
3. Stop hiding your secret addiction.
When we find out (not if, but when), it will ruin your ministry, devastate your family and place another black mark on the church.
Don’t be another example that people point to when they call Christians a bunch of hypocrites. Get help now.
4. Stop skipping your time with God.
Lack of time with God is the quickest way for you to dry up spiritually. Your responsibility as a pastor is first and foremost to have a strong personal relationship with God.
Prayer and Bible reading are not a waste of time. It’s the most productive thing you will do all day.
5. Stop talking about your “smoking hot wife.”
It’s great that you love your wife. But talk about how beautiful she is on the inside, too. Praise her godly character.
I don’t want my daughter growing up hearing you imply that attractiveness is all that matters in a woman. She gets too much of that from the rest of the world already.
6. Stop thinking you are the reason for your church’s success.
Check your ego. Good pastors rightfully give God the glory for the fruit of ministry. It’s all because of him. You are just a tool in God’s mighty hand.
7. Stop comparing yourself to other pastors.
Comparison is a loser’s game. You’ll either sin by taking pride in how much greater you are, or you’ll sin by coveting what they have. You can’t win. You can’t win with comparison.
8. Stop sacrificing your family in the name of doing “ministry.”
Your first job is to pastor your family well. Your degree of busyness is not a badge of honor, especially when it keeps you from being present for your family.
Working too much is a sign that you may be a workaholic and are likely doing a poor job of equipping the church for helping the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).
9. Stop reading business books more than your Bible.
Yes, there are a lot of parallels to leading a church and leading a business. I love a good leadership book as much as anyone else. But if you are spending far more time with secular books than the Bible, you have a problem. The Scriptures hold all the leadership principles you need.
10. Stop wasting the church’s tithe money on wasteful expenses.
Did you need to go to that expensive restaurant on the church’s dime? Was that shiny new gadget the best way to invest God’s money? Mishandling the church’s money doesn’t just apply to pastors with mansions and private jets. Be a good steward of every penny that God has entrusted to you.
11. Stop pointless mission trips.
Why do we keep spending thousands of dollars to send a few people on a mission trip for a week? Is that really the wisest way to invest in God’s kingdom?
What if you used that money instead to fund the local pastors and missionaries to reach their community year-round?
12. Stop saying your church is going to “reach the world.”
The “big C” church will reach the world, but not just your church. God’s redemptive plan is far greater than any lone congregation. Teach people to think bigger about the church than just your gathering.
13. Stop preaching anything but the Bible.
Opinions are like feet; everyone has them, and sometimes they stink. We don’t need your opinions. We need God’s. Tell us what he says. In the end, what he thinks is all that matters.
14. Stop preaching other pastors’ sermons without giving them credit.
That’s called plagiarism. It’s illegal. Don’t do it.
15. Stop doing selfish service.
Don’t serve for the sake of publicity. If your primary goal is to get on the news or to take pictures with orphans in Africa to post on Facebook, you need a heart check (Matthew 6:4). Do good for God’s glory, not your own.
What do you need to stop?
Look, none of us are perfect. If any of this rubbed you the wrong way because you felt convicted, you are not alone.
Don’t get mad at me. Get angry at the sin that so easily entangles us. Let’s repent of the mistakes we have made and move forward as faithful stewards of the work God has entrusted us to do.
Brandon Hilgemann is a pastor, the founder of ProPreacher.com (where this article was originally published) and the author of Preaching Nuts & Bolts: Conquer Sermon Prep, Save Time, and Write Better Messages.