My heart is for the pastor. Maybe it stems from the fact that I spent more years as a layperson … a deacon and Sunday school teacher … and now, as a pastor. I realize now how much I didn’t understand about the position. The role has a lot more expectations and pressures than I previously imagined. I always loved and supported the pastor, but looking back, I wish I had been an even better pastor’s friend.
One of the other realities, and it’s rather sobering to me, is how isolated many pastors feel from people in their congregation. Isolation almost always seems to lead to a misunderstanding of reality. In essence, and here’s the problem and purpose of this post, if we aren’t careful, we can begin to believe lies about ourselves or our ministries. (That even seems to have biblical precedence … believing lies got us into trouble from the beginning.)
Here are seven lies we often believe as pastors:
1. I’ve got this. The enemy loves it when we begin to think we have completely figured out life or ministry. He loves us to place total confidence in ourselves. Self-confidence, if unchecked, can lead to arrogance, a sense of superiority and a lack of dependence on God.
2. That didn’t hurt. Sometimes we pretend that what the person said or did to us doesn’t hurt. We can even spiritualize it because we wear the “armor of God.” In reality, most pastors I know (this one included) have tender feelings at times … some days more than others. We are human. Maturity helps us process things faster, but we never outgrow a certain vulnerability when working with people.
3. I’m above that. If a pastor ever thinks, that’s too small for me to be concerned about, watch for the fireworks to begin. The devil will see some points he can put on the board. Equally dangerous, when we as pastors believe we are above temptation of any kind, we have the devil’s full attention.
4. I’m in control. It would be easy to dismiss this one with a strong spiritual response. Of course, Jesus is in control. Hopefully every Bible-believing pastor reading this “Amens” to that truth. But how many times do we believe we have more authority than we really do … or should? Danger.
5. I’m growing this church. We must be careful not to take credit for what only God can do. I can’t imagine God would let this lie continue long without equally letting us “believe” (and experience) that we are responsible for declining this church.
6. If I don’t do this, no one will. We stifle spiritual growth of others when we fail to let them use their spiritual gifts. Additionally, we deny the hand and foot their individual role within the body. And, sadly, we often burn out ourselves and our family.
7. I’ve got to protect my people. I once had a pastor say he couldn’t allow “his” people to believe that God still speaks to people today other than through His Word, because there are too many “strange voices” out there. There are, and I believe the Bible is the main source of His communication, but God still speaks. If He doesn’t, let’s quit suggesting people pray about how much God wants them to give to the building fund. When we try to protect “our” people by keeping them from His provision, we make them our people and keep them from fully understanding that they are really His children. Let us instead teach them how to know God more intimately and discern His direction. His sheep know His voice.
I’m sure there are many other lies we can fall prey to as pastors. Exposing them can help us from being distracted by them and allow us to call on His strength to overcome them. Trading prayers for pastors as I type this post.
What other lies have you seen pastors believe?