Most of us would not include these two excesses in a list of which to be wary. “Do not be excessively righteous or overly wise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). But a wise pastor must not love wisdom too much.
20 Things a Wise Pastor Must Not Love Too Much
Proverbs lists two cautions, but for most of us I imagine the list might look more like this…
1. A wise pastor should not be in love with the sound of our own voice.
The preacher who delights too much with his own voice will outtalk everyone in the room and drone on far longer in sermons than is wise. Better we learn to tame that critter, then put him to use in the service of the Lord.
2. We should beware of loving those extra desserts.
More and more these days, the overweight preacher is the norm. Sometimes the culprit is that he announced from the pulpit his favorite dessert to be lemon icebox pie or banana pudding, and now well-meaning church members keep him supplied. Sometimes, it’s the church dinners where ladies bring a dozen or more home-made desserts that would tempt a saint.
3. The preacher who loves golf too much may be asking for trouble.
Golf can be a great servant but is a poor master. A great diversion but a poor vocation. It can fill a great need when kept in its place, but can wreck lives and careers when allowed to expand uncontrolled.
4. The pastor who specializes in taking people on trips to the Holy Land could be endangering his ministry.
He may be falling prey to the financial enticements such a sideline can offer.
I suggest that pastors who take groups on Holy Land trips should file annual reports with their church’s finance committee accounting for the income and outgo. When a pastor-host clears perhaps several hundred dollars per person, a good-sized tour-group can net him ten or twenty thousand dollars. Even if his church salary exceeds that several times over, this amount can make a great difference in his lifestyle.
I suspect that pastors who constantly take Holy Land tours never mention to their people that they are being paid for it. And yet, in most cases they are doing this on company time.
5. No wise pastor will love flattery too much.
Flattery is like perfume, we’re told. It smells good but will make you sick if you swallow it. I’ve known too many preachers who swallow all the flattery they can find, then look around for more. Not wise.
6. Mission trips.
Effective pastors may take their people on the occasional mission trip, but this too can be a diversion from his leadership of the local flock if overdone. Pastors who love to travel should be careful here. (Please note I’m not suggesting churches emphasize missions less; only that the pastor should keep his priorities on leading his flock back at home.)
7. AA wise pastor will not love Extra money.
The pastor who loves his people and is devoted to becoming the best shepherd possible will also be careful about projects that bring in outside income for himself. The exception would be if he is bi-vocational.
A bi-vocational pastor will do whatever he needs to in order to provide for his family. However, we have seen pastors with full incomes begin to dabble in sideline enterprises that quickly absorbed a great deal of their time and diverted their energies and attention from ministry.
8. To be an effective minister to his own people, a wise pastor will not hold more than two or three outside revivals (conferences, retreats, etc) a year.
If a pastor feels his calling is to evangelism, let him resign the church and follow the calling. But when he takes the church’s salary and then spends a great portion of his time preaching in other churches–all of which pay him hefty honoraria–he is mistreating the congregation. The church finance committee may ask him to report the income he receives from all these outside meetings.
9. The wise pastor should not be in love with degrees on his wall or titles before his name.
The love for such has caused unworthy schools to rise up and award hasty degrees for little effort and a lot of money. In the days of our Lord, it was greetings in the marketplace which the religious leaders loved. These days, it’s Doctor, Bishop, Senior Pastor, and the like. Let us be careful here.
10. A wise pastor will not love his study more than he should.
Now, most pastors need to spend more time in the study with the open Bible than they do. But here and there, we find ministers who would rather study than minister, rather exegete Romans than call on the elderly at the nursing home, and prefer their commentaries and study of the original languages than sitting down with the children to tell them of Jesus.