Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor

If you really want to hurt your pastor, then this blogpost is for you.

This past week alone, I had conversations with dozens of pastors. These pastors love their churches and the members. They are really committed to their callings.

But they are real people who can really be hurt.

The pastors I spoke with this past week shared with me seven common themes of the things that hurt them the most. So, if you really want to hurt your pastor, follow these guidelines carefully.

  1. Criticize the pastor’s family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.
  2. Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.
  3. Don’t defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.
  4. Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.
  5. Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you’ve succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.
  6. Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, “How can you afford to go to Disney World?” Wow.
  7. Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.

So, if your life’s goal is to hurt your pastor, one or more of these approaches will work just fine.

But, if you are like most good church members, you want the best for your pastor. So just do the opposite of these seven.

And if you are worried that your pastor will not remain humble unless someone puts him in his place, don’t worry. There will always be plenty of those other church members around.

Do you identify with these seven items? What would you add?


      • Mark Weippert says

        Don’t let your pastor be human. I had a pastor friend of mine who ask for prayer at the Wednesday night service about 6 weeks after the death of his wife. He asked the church to pray for him and his family as they went through a very difficult adjustment period. The next morning when he arrived at the office he was met by 2 of his deacons. They went into his office where he was told that he is at the church to minister to the church members NOT the other way around. He needed to “get his act together or get out”. The following Sunday he resigned effective immediately and has left the ministry. He was so broken that he says he will never pastor again.

        • Derek Keeling says

          With Reference to “The Broken Pastor” – I can understand if he never pastors again.. That is also ok. However, I do believe that the Lord is the “Restorer of the Broken Walls of our Lives”, and will never let any of us go. Sure we can experience great trauma, betrayal, rejection, desertion and so on. Yes it is very painful and sometimes very difficult to understand and find a way thru’. I do pray for the pastor, as a Missionary have experienced a similar traumatic situation, so I can comment from experience. I can only encourage this pastor to keep his eyes on the Lord. Even if he is having or had a desert experience…. Paul asks “That I may know Christ; and the Power of His Resurrection, And the Fellowship of Sharing with Him in His Sufferings; Becoming Like Him in His Death. (Phil. 3:10,11) – Sure very painful and often traumatic. Mis-Understanding, Mis-Representation and Mis-Trust, are all difficult things to bear, and sometimes we need the Lord to give us the “Forgiveness” or the “Enablement” as we do not have the strength. In our damaged state, the Lord can and had the opportunity develop aspects of His Character in us, (Yes it is hard words to swallow) – but trusting Him when we are wounded. We may not have been able to prevent the attack, but we can still choose how we are going to deal with it.

          Ps 139 – Even if we are in the desert, the Lord does not leave us. Yes there are individuals within and without the church. And sure there are some that have a lot to answer for before the Lord. Not much is said in Scripture re the ‘Emotional Trauma’ that Jesus experienced; However Paul is asking to experience the emotional trauma that Jesus experienced. (out of the pain of death we can experience ‘Resurrection Life’ I can identify with this pastor and would like to encourage him/you. Feeling those intensely painful stabbings takes us into emotional areas, we would otherwise be unaware of. Be encouraged and press on, knowing that the Lord understands. Take time to ‘Rest n Him’ – Under the Shadow of His wings you will find refuge, and underneath are His Everlasting Arms. Trust Him in and with your Pain. Thinking of you.. Blessings DrK – South Africa

        • Ken says

          @Mark: Man, that really stinks! I’ve been blessed with good deacons at my church, and I can’t imagine them doing anything like that. If they did, I would do exactly what your pastor friend did. People who are that self-centered don’t deserve a good pastor.

        • VanPastorMan says

          I echo what Ken said. Some people don’t deserve a pastor, and those who keep silent when jerks like this speak are to blame too.

        • Stuart Allsop says

          I’m both shocked and confused about how this could happen: “The next morning when he arrived at the office he was met by 2 of his deacons. They went into his office where he was told that he is at the church to minister to the church members NOT the other way around. He needed to “get his act together or get out”. Maybe I just don’t understand the politics of that church, but where on earth did the DEACONS get any authority at all to be telling the PASTOR what to do?

          Biblically, the position of deacon has no authority within the church. It is a position of service to the congregation, supervised by the elders and pastors. A deacon who thinks himself sufficiently empowered to berate his pastor, has no business at all being a deacon in the first place. And especially one who thinks that his pastor does not deserve comfort, prayer and ministration!

          Those deacons need a lesson in the meaning of the word:

          This is an immensely sad comment: that two “servers” in the church with no Biblical authority feel they can instruct, direct and even threaten the Pastor, in his time of greatest need, and in such a callously unchristian, unloving, uncaring way, speaks greatly of the “spirit” of that church. I wonder how much longer it will survive. Perhaps it would be worth their while taking a new look at the Lord’s warning in Rev: 2:4-5.

        • Judy Meredith says

          How incredibly unkind! Just as there are times members of the congregation need prayers and moral support from their pastor, there are times when he or she needs the same from us. If this were my church, I’d leave it.

      • Jennifer says

        If you want to hurt your pastor, give him a list of complaints without names attached (“people don’t like” or “people want”.) and do not give him the opportunity to verify, address, or make a plan to bring biblical solution to any of the items on the list.
        …or give him anonymous hate mail, complaints, or “need to talk later” messages just before he preaches.
        …refuse to shake his hand or look at him in the worship services because he spoke positively about a decision the majority of the church voted in favor of – except you.
        …make continual jokes about how long he preaches, but never comment on anything God revealed through the message.
        …remain silent or make excuses when some of your long-time friends attack his character or his family – don’t tell him you are praying for him and that you support him; or even consider the idea of rebuking your friend who is out of line towards your pastor. Refusing to defend the pastor, even if you know he is biblically correct and under attack for righteousness sake.
        …treat him as if he is also the church janitor, your personal counselor, and show pony when you want to impress your friends.
        …give him a list of “to-dos” which are unreasonably long and taxing of his time to devote to studying God’s Word and taking needed family time.
        …treat him as the hired hand and do not value his professionalism or godly wisdom over their own current or former job experiences in the secular world of doing business.
        …invite his family to your Sunday School class fellowships and let him know you want his family there to serve and clean up, rather than be honored guests.

        • pastor wife says

          Wow Jennifer! You could be a member at the church that just forced my husband to resign. Almost every single one of these happened to him. Now he’s not sure if he wants to go back into the ministry.

        • Another Pastor's Wife says

          WOW! Many of Jennifer’s comments are just what happened to my husband while in ministry at our last church. It seemed to be all about them and not any consideration given to the Pastor and his family’s needs. And the pastor was not the leader of that church at all….it was the Head Deacon and Official Board that made all the decisions

      • Lance Burch says

        Clint, you had already put the period at the end of that sentence. Usually, one verbalizes the period when you are speaking to add the emphasis. In written form, however, it doesn’t seem to have the same sort of “umph”, does it?

        Also, can you clarify what caused you to say “You are an idiot” and to whom? Did you misunderstand Jim Duggan to mean that you actually should not give your pastor the benefit of the doubt? Because, if you did, then I think you missed his meaning completely.

        • says

          I am a Church Health Consultant. While It is easy to misconstrue the meaning of “Never give your pastor the benefit of the doubt”. Mr. Duggan’s comment could mean : Never let a criticism slide into silence. When gossip is held in silence -this toxic, false information is allowed to do damage. Gossip must be openly challenged.
          Whisper campaigns are toxic. As a Pastor, I want to know what people are saying. Our Lord and Savior asked the Question: “Who do people say that I am”. (Mark 8:27) The truth is always your friend.
          Ministers must protect their honor. Inasmuch, every pastor needs a Nathan (Prophet) to tell him or her the straight dope.
          I hope that Mr. Duggen is NOT insinuating that ALL pastors are, somehow, guilty of all manner of sin over and above the level of other sinful human beings.

          • David Furman says

            If we look at Jim Duggan’s comment as number 8 in the list, his meaning is quite clear. One could then go on to say that as even pastors are only sinners saved by grace, credible complaints can be discretely reviewed by church leaders to determine their validity, and then to follow Christ’s own teaching: Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      • Frank says

        Either Clint is a troll, or Clint was responding to your post sarcastically.

        “Don’t give the benefit of the doubt…”
        “You’re an idiot, period.”

        Either way, I hope you don’t find yourself offended by his remarks. Either they don’t matter, or they’re in odd agreement.

    • Kurt says

      Since Jim Dugan was answering Thom’s request, “What else would you add to the list?”, his statement “Never give your pastor the benefit of the doubt” is meant as an additional way to hurt your pastor.

      Which brings us to your response as an examples of two more ways to hurt a pastor…or anyone:
      1) “Don’t ask for clarification before jumping to conclusions”
      2) “Don’t just disagree; make condescending statements about his character and capabilities.”

    • says

      Maybe it would be a good idea if I clarified what I meant.

      I meant that another way you can hurt your pastor is to just assume an accusation or complaint against a pastor must be correct. As a pastor, it hurts when people do not trust you or think enough of you to come to you and ask if an accusation is true but rather just assume it is.

      I hope that helps clarify. And Clint, yes, often I am an idiot.

      • Ken says

        I’m sorry that some people misconstrued your earlier comment, but I took it (evidently correctly) as an addition to the list. People are indeed much too quick to believe rumors about the pastor. When I was a pastor in Missouri, a rumor spread that I was trying to run off the Methodist pastor in town. It was ridiculous because (1) I don’t have the authority to run off anyone else’s pastor, and (2) I have better things to do than get involved in another church’s business. Still, some people believed the rumor.

    • Mrs. Mitchell Jones says

      Thank you Jim we found your comment a chief problem in our experience! Thanks for adding this one for all the above listed are always delved out individually and people often think others have been driven away rather than sinfully leaving on their own; especially when a pastor survives having never mentioned the abuse but the offender fabricated some incident to excuse their leaving. Friendships continue without the issue being addressed leaving the pastor and his familyb betrayed. Mature pastors and their families rest…knowing that the Lord Himself shall use it for His own, glory.

    • Nate says

      Yeah, also never give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Because having no trust at all in your significant other is a brilliant way to keep a relationship going.

      Please, tell me what you meant to say was “Never blindly follow someone.” If there is a complaint or issue, it should be looked through and investigated, but doing the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach helps no one. I’m a PK, my brother is a pastor, and my other brother is heavily involved with youth ministry and is trying to be a youth minister as well. I know your type, and that thinking is destructive. Starting off with that kind of bias will cloud your judgement, and not Biblical. We are called to hold each other accountable, but we are to do it in love. Seriously, do you want God judging us like that? I don’t.

      • Jim Duggan says

        Nate, I am little unclear about your post. Were you directing your questions at my reply? If so, let me see if I can address them for you.

        First, I never stated anywhere that anyone should blindly follow anyone. I never suggested that pastors should not have accountability, I was merely pointing out – as the title to Dr Rainer’s post suggested and in response to his request to add our own thoughts – that it is also hurtful to a pastor to just assume that every complaint is true and begin a campaign to appease the complainer without ever giving the pastor the opportunity to answer for himself.

        Second, I am not sure what spouses have to do with the flow of this thread.

        Third, you stated “I know your type…” I know two or three guys named or nicknamed Nate. If you know me, then you probably have my personal contact info and may feel free to contact me privately if you have any further questions. If you don’t know me personally, then thanks for validating my response.

        God bless.

  1. Patti Hayes says

    Just want to give a ginormous shout out to my pastor, Ken Whitten, and his lovely family! And if you’re like me, and you don’t ever want to hurt God’s anointed and appointed, then pray for him without ceasing, and give thanks for him and his family upon every remembrance of them.

    Pastor Ken & Mrs. Ginny, and your beautiful family, I love you all dearly, and it is my constant joy to pray for you.

    Much Love

  2. Allen Calkins says

    The easiest way to hurt your pastor is to simply say nothing about anything he does. Do not express appreciation for his ministry in any way. Just silently come and go.
    Another way that is more subtle is ALWAYS accept your friends’ invitation to go to their church for something special (making sure to tell your pastor how great it was) but NEVER invite anyone to come to church with you.

    • Mark says

      Allen…your remarks really hit home for me. Especially your second addition. We have this on a routine basis. We have some wonderful folks in our small community who attend an “up-and-comer” in a larger town close by. They are currently in growth by consumption mode and the push is great. Well respected folks with an invitation to the local latest and greatest…and I hear about it weekly. If only we could do those things…it hurts sometimes because we are doing a VERY good job for God with what we have. The Spirit is here too. Thanks for sharing! Great article as usual Thom!

  3. Jason says

    They’re all right on, and number 5 is especially true… And is especially true for Sunday mornings. PLEASE, PLEASE, if the door is shut and I look like I’m praying before service starts, PLEASE don’t knock and tell me about why you’re upset that someone else put the coffee out or why we should have themed carry-in lunches because we don’t fellowship enough… Ugh…

  4. Jerry D. Woods says

    Some of the meanest people I’ve ever met were leaders in the local Baptist Church. They are more interested in their power position in the local church than they are about learning and practicing the Word of God. Think about this the next time you meet adults who grew up in a pastor’s home. I know several who are not in church today because of what they saw their Dad experience from “Jesus-Loving” church leaders.

    • Chris R says

      This is a very unfortunate truth, especially in the so-called “Bible Belt” where church is more of a status symbol or social club. People say they are good, church going people. But that’s the problem. They just go to church. They don’t realize or even care that they have to be the church, if they are indeed saved.

      • Chris says

        As my husband would say, “Standing in a church for an hour a week doesn’t make you any more a Christian than standing in your garage for an hour a week makes you a car.”

    • tim says

      I went to Catholic school. The people there were not very loving. The nuns who ran the school were abusive and treated boys like dirt. Many of the teachers were abusive as well. So it’s not just in the Bible belt were this occurs.

  5. Jerry D. Woods says

    It does not let me edit. I would also say some of God’s very finest people that I have ever met were leaders and workers in God’s Local church !

  6. Dean says

    Gladly accept his/their hospitality, but don’t reciprocate.

    Make certain that “annual meetings” are a free-for-all, when anyone, regardless of knowledge or walk with God, can say anything with no replies being offered.

    • Robinson says

      I’m a pastor’s wife and we had a year of such cruel “free-for-all’s” I finally told my husband that when we were done at the church, I don’t think I ever want to walk through the doors of a church again. Some sheep bite, hard.

      • Leveda says

        I am currently dating a wonderful man of God who is a pastor as well. We are planning to become husband and wife if it’s in God’s will. He has often shared this with me but hearing it from a pastor’s wife herself, makes it a sheer reality! I will begin praying for strength now!

      • Mike Morrison says

        I would like to made a point of clarification to protect the integrity of the Bride of Christ. I do not think you were seeking to dishonor the church and I know full well what you meant when you said some sheep bite hard. I would like to point out that sheep don’t bite…but goats do.

    • Mike Colabucci says

      I am so sorry to hear those words “annual meeting” come from your mouth.
      I just finished writing a friend about the need for churches to pray for, care for, encourage and most importantly love their God appointed leaders. Your point is well taken and I would further add that if anyone in the congregation of “believers” has anything negative to say about anyone in God’s family they should first go to that person in private and then, if necessary, appear before the board of elders to explain themselves. There must be unity in the body and if anyone is secretly or publicly expressing negativity concerning another believer who is created in God’s own image, they are the problem and need to go find a church they like. Cancer must be cut out or it will spread and eventually kill the body.

  7. says

    Thank you Thom for an excellent article. I have only experienced 1,3 and 7 but I know many who have experienced all of these. The hardest for me is when my family is criticized and especially my wife. She is the hardest serving person in our church and avoids recognition like the plaque. I have now known her for 43 years and still have not heard her say one negative thing about another human being. The criticism doesn’t come often but when it does it truly is a spiritual low point for me.

  8. Monty says

    Always say, “people,” or “they,” are talking as if it’s more than you and one other person. Avoid Matthew 18 and stir the pot via social media and in parking lot conversations.

    Never pray with your pastor

    When his wife/child has surgery don’t go and don’t call to pray.

      • Ken says

        When they give you the “People are saying” routine, ask them a simple question: “Who?” If they give names, then it may be a legitimate complaint. If they won’t give names, then they’re probably just making trouble.

    • Connie weaver says

      Monty, when someone says “people” or “they” in that context, I ask how many; I don’t need names, but I do want numbers! Just like I’d challenge one of my kids if they said “everybody” was doing something.

      • Rev. Run says

        When I was an associate pastor, I had someone criticize my senior pastor, saying, “I have personally had over 50 negative conversations about [the senior pastor].”

        I believe it… and I am sure that this individual initiated every one of them.

        • says

          Another nuance of human nature I’ve picked up on is when people shift out of first person and into second and/or third person. When they start saying “you” and “they” instead of “we” and “us,” they have just distanced themselves from culpability and from the body.

  9. Amy Terrell says

    Wait until the pastor and family are out of town and then have a meeting to discuss his salary and take a confidence vote.

    • Joe says

      That happened to me at one of the churches that I served. The leaders knew that we were out of town to celebrate a church’s 150th year in ministry.

      I get back and was hit with a list of things that supposedly I had done wrong.

      This was one of the reasons I decided it was time to leave. And this was after 5 people were baptized out of a slowly growing church of 30.

    • Ken says

      I’ve never had it happen to me (thankfully), but I’ve heard of it happening to other pastors. If the pastor has done something wrong, the church has a duty to deal with it, but they should at least give the pastor an opportunity to tell his side. To do something like that while the pastor is on vacation is just plain old cowardice.

  10. says

    I would add:

    Let a problem wait to become a crisis before bringing it up. For example:

    If you truly feel that there is a deficiency in my ministry, then come to me and let’s talk about it now. If you think that Sunday School Class B is upset that I never get away from Class A in making rounds on Sunday AM, please let us talk about it the first month.

    Or, hurt me by letting that fester so that Class B is angry with me and rejects anything I have to say.

    I am well aware as your pastor that I have shortcomings, that I have blind spots in my ministry. I know that they change with time.

    I also know that they are BLIND SPOTS. So, I don’t know what they are. Please constructively and positively work with me to eliminate them before they eliminate our efforts to strengthen the church and share the Gospel.

    Do so constructively–I’ll make time to listen so that we can talk about it not on Sunday.

    In keeping with your theme, here it is: To hurt your pastor, let every little thing slide until it’s a crisis. Then wonder why he felt pressured and attacked and call him immature for it.

    (And not that anyone from my current pastorate is likely to read this, but it’s past experience not current events.)

    • Renee W says

      Oh my…. how did you know? To me, the hardest part of the hurt is that they do it in secret claiming to be doing you a favor and by the “will” of God by keeping it secret, talking behind your back. I’m supposed to count it all joy, but I find counting it joy a roller coaster ride. Perhaps one day I’ll be used to it.

  11. says

    Dr. Rainer, you are truly a Pastor’s friend. We will all most likely hear some of these things in our ministry. I have found that my flesh wants to get defensive, yet there is wisdom in silence. For a long time I felt the need to be popular with everyone. I have learned to just try to be faithful to His call.
    Good Word! Perhaps Lifeway could start putting your blog on the back of bulletins:)

  12. says

    In 12 years of ministry, I have experienced all of these. I could add another one, how about how the pastor dresses. I always try to have a great appearance. I also noticed attending the convention in Baltimore that dress was more casual and pastors and people are focussing more on the majors and winning people to Christ rather than the minors with traditions. I was told yesterday that I made history in a negative way because I was the first pastor ever in the history of the church to not wear a tie and coat when I preached. That was a new one for me.

    • Jessica says

      Don’t forget about putting the pastors wife down for not being dressed like a pastors wife. I’ve personally heard this one. Remember the pastors calling is to be the pastor his wife is not the pastor she may have a different calling on her life than her husbands. By the way the pastors wife wore jeans & a nice shirt when this comment was made. Like really you expect her to be dressed in her best clothes all day everyday, have her hair, makeup, and nails done at all times…. its unrealistic.

  13. Joe Pastor says

    I would add this: As you leave our church for unhappy reasons, do one of two things:

    1. Trash me on your way out the door. (Hit and run)
    2. Say absolutely nothing on your way out the door. (Run and hide)

    Whatever happened to the idea of brothers sitting down and talking as brothers?!

    • jonathon says

      In defence of saying nothing on the way out, why would having a discussion change anything, if the pastor totally ignored you before leaving?
      (Two written offers to do something for the church. Three more verbal offers, and the only response has been no response. If they don’t like the offers, tell me.)

      • Mark says

        Jonathon…the Bible tells us and Christ instructs us that if we have a beef or disagreement, we are to go to that person and speak to them about it. (Paraphrasing of course.) That is the way of love. He needs to know your frustrations and you may need to facilitate that discussion with and through another staff person or elder.
        My response to this would also be…what did you offer? Context is everything my brother. If it is to help the pastor and the church, perhaps your concerns are valid. If it is to be the pastor or run the church, then maybe they are not. Perhaps your suggestion is lower priority than the immediate need? Simply taking your ball and leaving the game in a huff serves no one and no purpose. Be blessed my brother. I can hear a lot of hurt there. But check yourself first.

        • jonathon says

          The offers are related to Bible Study.

          One of them was a follow up to a request by his predecessor.
          The others were offshoots of current programs.
          Maybe they are not suitable at this point in time. Still, that does not excuse the lack of a statement to that effect, whether by phone, email, snail-mail, or in person, to any of the offers.

          I tried scheduling an appointment with him, once. That request was ignored.

          I realized decades ago that I don’t do groups well. Consequently, it is better all round if I stay out of them.

          • Liz Atchley says

            I may have committed “run and hide” but when the senior pastor crossed more than one theological line in an off-the-cuff remark preceding the message I gave up. Offers of legitimate professional services had been ignored, offers to volunteer with youth had been ignored (apparently the only thing a woman my age is fit for is nursery duty – that despite a physical condition that does not permit me to lift, push, press, or pull more than 10 pounds) and attempts to discuss concerns with members of the leadership team had been dismissed as “not a real issue.” Yep, I left that Sunday and have never been back. Not surprisingly, the only people who asked why I hadn’t been to worship were friends who belonged to the congregation; not one word from any of the leadership team members.

  14. Don says

    If you are taking a Sunday off, or have to miss church, make sure you don’t let the Pastor or staff know, especially if you have an important responsibility like Sunday School Teacher, Deacon, Nursery Worker, Sound or Video Technician, etc. THAT will teach “them” how important and valuable you are! Ignore Matthew 7:12 when it comes to dealing with the Pastor and staff.

  15. Elle says

    I suspect the one about expenditures comes from people who can’t afford many nice things themselves. It can be a little galling to feel like you’re giving money so that someone else can afford luxuries you can’t. Still not a kind thing to say, but…

    • says

      You’d be surprised. I’ve previously been confronted about how I afford things by folks who drive the nicest of cars and take the most expensive of vacations.

      It’s possible that they were simply burying themselves in debt to do that, and so doubted that I was doing otherwise with my 1 day trips to minor league baseball–but I’m not sure.

      • Rev. Run says

        No, these complaints come all the time, and *not* from the poorest members of the congregation. When I was a kid, our church’s parsonage was furnished. They asked for new furniture to replace the fraying old living room furniture. You should have heard the uproar!

    • Scott says

      My experience has been the exact opposite, quite a few times. Typically such comments come from those with financial means.

  16. Liezel Bredenkamp says

    Being a staff member for over 10 years, I have seen all the above happen to pastors… and have seen the hurt it caused.

  17. says

    Thank you Dr. Rainer,
    Another way to hurt your pastor is saying “he or she said” something hurtful she or he did not say. This happens very often. Apparently people enjoy saying “the pastor said…”, and say things that are either exaggerated or false. Then the pastors are seen differently. In this picture the two parties are wrong; the one speaking falsehood, and the other who listened and did not confirmed with the pastors.

  18. AT Coffey says

    Another subtle slam is to never mark anniversaries of service. I have been at my present church for 16 years and never has there been held a celebration for any period of my service. Not at 5 or 10 or most recently 15. That hurts.

    • Jesse says

      It is even better when they refuse to recognize your anniversary at the church, but make a big deal for the staff on theirs. 9 years not a single recognition and each of my staff are encouraged and given anniversary recognition. I have decided that my job is to train this church to be a better church for their next pastor, because they are not getting it now, but hopefully they will hear the message and get the idea when the person who follows me arrives.

  19. Mark Dance says

    Since criticizing a pastor’s family is a direct hit, I would suggest that complementing a pastor’s family has the opposite impact. Dr Rainer, you are a pastor to pastors, so I’m going to dish out to you what we all want and need from our members and staff – encouragement.

    I met two of your sons this week in Baltimore, as well as their wives and children. I was very impressed with how committed they are to you and Nellie Jo, as well as their own spouses and kids. Both Sam and Art were very approachable and professional and I know you are a proud father, as you should be. I look forward to meeting Jess some day also.

  20. B. Powers says

    Constantly compare the current pastor to previous pastors…always say, “We’ve never done it that way,” or “We’ve always done it this way.” Do not allow a new pastor the opportunity to seek his/her own vision for the church.

  21. Jim says

    The horrible truth is I can relate to most of the 7… but most are also self-inflicted. I’m the only one comparing myself to other pastors. I’m the one feeling guilty about my salary. I’m the one not even defending himself against my own self criticism! Eye-opening. How can we defeat this kind of pervasive insecurity???

    • Connie Weaver says

      I experienced nearly all of the list in my first call. What I now understand is that some people are sharks and will follow blood, so I try to bleed as little as possible. In other words, I brush off a lot and expect the best from people, and try not to reward the sharks by caring too much about what they say.

    • Scott says

      True. I struggle the same way. As a pastor’s kid who grew up in the fishbowl, I now realize it’s learned behavior. Goats and Pharisees train those around them to support their self-salvation project, and we pastors have given in. So… Fight spiritual battle against wolves/goats. Tell the truth to their face. Refuse to believe the lies Satan wants you to believe that have been covered by the lamb. When they say, “People have been saying…” look them firmly in the eyes and with conviction say, “Exactly how many and who are they, so I can personally address these issues like Scripture calls me to in in Matt 18 in ways that they won’t.” Bring the lies into the light knowing your call to shepherd often involves the crooked part of the staff! Preach the gospel to yourself! Memorize 2 Timothy as a reminder of your calling. (Dunno if this gets at your comment, but these issues get me fired up!) May wanna think about reading Paul David Tripp’s recent(ish) book, “Dangerous Calling” (I think.) He’s got some good introductory videos about it on Youtube, Inthink.

      • Scott says

        *I think.

        … Should’ve added, through my strong verbiage, that doing all this in love, something that is a ‘given’ about which we nevertheless need to be reminded, doesn’t mean being a wimp. Sometimes it is love to shock someone into truth by confronting them.

    • RevMichelle says

      Help Lord. I sometimes say “If you could do it, why did you need me?”

      Pastors have one boss. The Best Boss ever that says we are workers TOGETHER with Him.

      The church can be so out of order sometimes.

      When you call for a pastor you are calling for a representative. It’s as if you are paying a free agent or a contractor.

      You need some things done that you have no expertise or in this case anointed gifting for.

      Why would you presume to tell your teacher, lawyer, plumber, etc. what to do???

  22. Ivan Lambert says

    Ask your pastor a theological question, not because you are seeking to learn why he said what he said, but only because you want to rebuke him / correct him [never considering you’ may have read much less on the subject than he has].

  23. Ronnie says

    Make sure and pull the pastor to the side right before service and unleash a complaint or gripe…..that will surely help him focus on the message God has placed in his heart for that day. Not!

  24. Jeff Souza says

    With respect that pastors are people too and can have hurt feelings like anyone else, this sounds a little bit like over-sensitive whining. Quite frankly, it also sounds a little worldly. When a pastor is a confident leader and is in touch with God’s direction for His church, these petty things don’t phase pastors nearly as much as when the pastor is too dependent on approval from the world.

    • dkear says

      I think you might be in the minority there. Must be nice to be that kind of pastor, but most of us guys who still struggle with our sinful nature aren’t so lucky.

      • Jeff Souza says

        I am a leader. I have been in leadership training and proving grounds my whole life. I have also been on search teams, hiring teams, etc in my church home. I have had pastors as friends and even best friends. And over the years I have seen a number of pastors who were confident leaders and others who needed constant positive reinforcement from the world. I understand a pastor being sensitive and protective regarding his family, but some of these other issues in this article are just whiny. Seek God

        • Alex says

          I can reassure you Jeff, that most pastors have learned that they cannot share their hurts with members; including friends, because there is a great temptation to use it against the pastor. This is the same in the secular world, you are NOT going to tell your boss how he hurts you because it will come back and bite you; even if he is your friend.

    • jonathon says

      I guess it is self-indulgent whining when the church-members say:
      * Since your son is going to a non-Christian college, we are cutting your salary;
      * Since you buy a new car every two years, you are obviously overpaid, and your salary should be cut. (The cars had more than 100,000 miles on them, when traded in.);
      * Since your daughter lives by herself, we aren’t going to give you a raise;
      * So what if you were in traction, at the hospital. You still should have been preaching at church on Sunday;
      * You are a heathen, because you meet with preachers from other denominations;
      * We are firing you, because you are making converts at bars;

      Those are just some things I’ve seen church members say to the preacher, or their children, at various churches I’ve attended over the years.

  25. A Pastors Wife says

    The pressure a pastor has to be “married to the ministry”. The wife and family need him to be husband/dad.

  26. Donny says

    Another great post. I would hope these would never be directed at my pastor. Dr. Ron Stewart at Grace Baptist in Knoxville is an inspiring leader and encourages us all. I’m sure we don’t tell him enough how much we appreciate him and his family. Thom thanks for sharing these things we shouldn’t do.

  27. says

    In chapter 4 of Autopsy of a Deceased Church, you talk about giving up authority to people in your community to better reach them. What does that mean and what does it look like?
    By the way, I read the book in one sitting. I could not put it down. Excellent work. Thank you.

  28. Matt Lawrence says

    A big thank you for your good words and a big thank you to my pastor Mac Brunson, and all the other pastors and staff at my church! I have had a literal avalanche of blessings from my pastor and staff. I can’t imagine how a pastor and staff could do anything more to be a blessing to my family. I am praying for Pastor Mac today as he in speaking at a Pastor’s conference.

    How about this for your hurtful list: Do anything to hurt a young person in ministry. We’re losing the next generation and our young people who are in ministry are our key link to them. These young guys and gals aren’t war hardened against the darts fired from the naysayers and are more vulnerable. So even more grace and more encouragement is appropriate for them. Let’s pour a fifty-five gallon barrel of encouragement on the younger ones every chance we get!

  29. says

    I’ve had some serious health issues over the years.any in the church would never ask how I was doing, but they certainly wanted me with them when they had issues. Some even claimed the health issues were not real. I’m now with a church that greatly cares.

  30. James says

    Secretly bad-mouthing new ideas while displaying public support of the pastor or using other people to voice negative opinions without discussing them directly with the pastor.

  31. Jeff says

    If our Pastor’s are clear, simple, & Christ centred then we should be extremely thankful, given the lack of this in much of the Christian world. Sometimes we are simply spoilt children, who have grown presumptuous, when we criticise our Pastor.

  32. Jimmy Allen says

    First of all, I want give a huge shout out to my pastor, Bob Reno, of Berean Baptist Church, here on the South Hill of Puyallup, WA. And not just because Preacher is likely reading this comment thread. 😉 He truly is God’s anointed, and has a heart for his church, for the lost, and for those going and taking the light of the Gospel of Christ to foreign fields.

    Now, for my point. And I did not read all of the comments above, so this may already have been addressed. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone can do those things mentioned above, especially habitually, and still continue to attend that church. If the preacher needs that much help, maybe that is a sign a person is not in the right place? Or, here is a revolutionary idea based off a phrase I heard awhile back: “If you want a better pastor, simply pray for the one you have.” Pray for him, his family, and for the ministry as a whole.

    Bro. Rainer, I thank you for this insightful piece. And I thank you for being so interactive in the comments. God Bless you, Sir, you ministry, and your family.


  33. Jason says

    Since these really apply to all pastors on a church staff not just Senior pastors I would add to that “Treating them as if they are just a hired hand there to fulfill you every request”

  34. Scott Pomeroy says

    Wow these are huge and are all spot on. I absolutely love the calling God has placed on Tammy’s & my life but these 7 topics are all so true. I think the one that’s the most funny is that folks would actually think it’s only a 10hr a week position with multiple days off. I know why that is because there are some that are lazy in the ministry and give the God loving & serving pastors a bad name. We here at Oak Hills generally put in on an average week well into the 60hr + range. sometimes almost double that. But God doesn’t say to only serve half way. There is at many different times God’s word says to serve with all your heart, soul, & all your strength. We are called to love God and love people and meet them where they are & not to always expect them to come to us on Sunday morning. This isn’t just for Pastors either. If we call ourselves Christians we are disciples which means we are to put into motion Matt. 28:19 daily no matter the hrs or cost.

  35. Jeff Clawson says

    Expect your pastor to live up to your unrealistic expectations. (i.e know everything you want or need, know what information you want and whether or not you have it, live as a super-human.)

  36. Bob the builder says

    You should write a blog on how to confront the pastor when you think he is misusing funds of the church. Since pastors are “men” they need accountability from others rather than always making the claim “Gods Anointed” and people are afraid to speak up.

    Most deacons of baptist church’s That I have been a part of are to timid to ask good questions and put safe guards in place. Our preachers love their control and don’t like to be questioned.

    Maybe you could write about this.

    • FmrPastor says

      Dear Bob the Dismantler,

      You sir, are in danger of a serious spiritual spanking. Not from one of us, but from a more divine source. It is comments like yours that really breaks the heart of this former pastor. If it weren’t for church members with attitudes like yours, there would be many pastors, myself included, that would still be serving in full time ministry today. Whatever happened to parishoners that would simply afford their pastors the same courtesy, respect and benefit of the doubt that they would wish for themselves if the tables were turned.

      You sir, were not tasked by God with the heavy burden of watching out for the spiritual welfare of the flock. That is the PASTOR’S job! You also are not a divinely ordained spiritual policeman that has the authority to go around the church issuing citations that other “timid deacons” will not do because they do not have the intestinal fortitude that you possess.

      Bob, if you distrust your pastor that much, it’s time for you to move on. If you feel he has the “untouchable anointed” attitude, maybe you need to find another church where you can feel comfortable. If you presume he is misusing church funds without absolutely concrete evidence, you sir will be the catalyst of a heartbreaking church split with many casualties.

      I’m not saying that your pastor is innocent, but this is an accusation that few pastors survive. I know this, because I was once that pastor. It was an untruthful accusation, and was proven untrue, but it left me with a lame duck ministry that I had to withdraw from.

      Remember, folks… your pastors are human beings with real faults… but whatever happened to the congregations that would stand up for the integrity of their spiritual leader first??? If pastors (including yours) could speak their mind freely and unbridled, they would echo these words.

      Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.

      Thom, sorry for throwing a wet blanket on this blog, I just get righteously indignant when I see the evidence of an impending church split.

      • M.M. says

        Amen and high-five!

        Be very sure before you bring accusations/ persecution to any of God’s children and especially those that watch for your souls.

        Our former ministry allowed this very mess to tear the body apart.

        The deacons (not all but most) allowed the pot to be stirred and stood against us.

        Meanwhile we did not have any access to a checkbook, names were on no accounts, and had no access to a credit/debit card was being charged with impropriety.

        We were ostracized for a time. We ended our affiliation with the church and the man that ACTUALLY was taking the church’s money (a deacon), over $130,000 has since been found out and “forgiven”.

        No apology. No retraction of statements leveled against us and the same “deacon” slashed our pay by half because the church was “broke”.

        Check your facts and be sure what you think is really what is.

        Investigate absolutely because there is accountability. Checks and balances but stay in your lane and use the proper channels seasoned with grace. As to not sully the Bride.

    • jonathon says

      Clergy seldom survive accusations of financial misconduct.
      The only suitable response to such accusations, is to request a forensic audit of all financial records.

      Before hiring a Forensic Accountant:
      # Consider the available evidence;
      # Look at who else has access to the money;
      # Look at how much the each department actually spends;

      # Determine what outcome to follow if:
      * The preacher ate the money;
      * A deacon ate the money;
      * An elder ate the money;
      * Another church member ate the money;
      * An outside party ate the money;
      * Nobody ate the money;
      * A budget line-item ate the money;

      I know of one pastor accused of financial misconduct, who routinely paid the “triple net” part of the church rent out of his own pocket, then obtained re-imbursement of the funds. Unfortunately, he was not good at keeping a paper trail.

      I also knew of one pastor who routinely kept the entire collection, treating it as his legitimate pay, and ignored the other church expenses.

  37. A.J. says

    As a pastor, the things that hurt me most revolve around church people not acting like Christians. For church people to act unlovingly toward one another hurts me deeply, simply because mean attitudes in the church go together like fingernails and chalk boards. This is what I lose sleep over the most, and what hurts me the deepest, even more so when these actions don’t even involve myself. I hate seeing my people treating each other badly.

  38. Kathy B says

    As soon as the minister decides on a new course of Bible study, that will take three years to complete, you decide to leave, and your whole family goes with you! Then, you tell me that some “things” are going on that I don’t know about, but when I ask you what they are, you don’t want to tell me! Gossip is so sinful!

  39. TJ says

    Several come to mind, but probably my #1 is: support your pastor in privately but not publicly. Tell him you believe in his plans in private but remain silent when others oppose him.

    Another one I experience regularly: tell him how long his sermon was. Like, exactly how long. One member tells me almost weekly how many minutes it was, making sure to tell me how great it is when they are short.

  40. Mary says

    Share a complaint about the Pastor but not to his face. Instead, corner his wife as she is walking to Sunday School.
    Sadly this happened to me yesterday.

    This also hurts the Pastor.

  41. steve pryor says

    Great job, as always. Several of these are related to non-Church leadership roles, as is often the case.

  42. A.C.Arias-Jose says

    I am a pastor’s kid. One thing I learned from my Dad–a pastor needs to develop a thick hide and knees! Don’t be a pastor if you can’t roll with the punches. Remember Jesus Christ? He preached the word and healed the sick–he was crucified! No servant is greater than his Master. What did Paul say? “…no man should be moved be these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereto.” 1 Thess. 3:3.
    Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you FALSELY for my sake.

  43. says

    Perhaps this is already on here, but another one would be to constantly reminisce about the former pastor and his family, and how wonderful they were.

  44. Roberto says

    I’m a Pastor son. Sure I have seen these before. They hurt the pastor and family. The younger you are the deeper the scar. I still working the healing process.

  45. says

    I agree with the above list, and I’d like to re-post it on Facebook or my own blog. However, I find myself not doing it because if the very criticism you describe. The last time I did, a deacon came to me telling me that others were concerned I was painting a bad picture of our church.

  46. Kevin Bussey says

    Have meetings in resteraunts to find a way to remove him.

    Cut the salaries of your staff so significantly they can’t afford to live in the town anymore.

  47. says

    You left out some, and these are in no particular order, just as they come to mind:

    (8) Don’t show up for church, but if you do, be inconsistent in your attendance – let the slightest little old thing keep you away;

    (9) Don’t participate in congregational singing (provided your church still does that sort of thing) – just sit there and let yourself be entertained or, worse, be indifferent;

    (10) Don’t show any interest in what he’s saying from the pulpit (including, but not limited to: not opening your Bible – if you brought it – when he asks you to; not paying attention when he’s speaking; reading something you brought from home while he’s preaching (yep – it happens!); not taking notes; staring off into space; sleeping; looking at your watch or the clock on the wall, etc.);

    (11) Mess with your cell phone during the service (and, no, he won’t automatically believe you when you say, “I was using my Bible app and following along);

    (12) Don’t read your Bible at home every day;

    (13) Don’t have a daily prayer time;

    (14) Don’t invite or bring guests with you to church (that’s Pastor’s job – didn’t you know that?_);

    (15) Don’t attend Sunday School;

    (16) Be inconsistent in your giving, if you give at all (most never realize how many pastors of small churches go without a paycheck some weeks in order to make sure the bills for the church get paid);

    and, along that line>>> (17) Assume that, since you weren’t able to go to church this past Sunday, your tithe isn’t needed, nor do you owe it. After all, your church didn’t do anything for you because you weren’t there, and the cost of keeping the doors open goes down when you don’t attend, right?

    (18) and this is one probably ought to be #1 – don’t grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ: be content to know nothing of the person of the Lord, seeing as how you’ve already done “the important bit” – making sure you’re on your way to Heaven.

    May God have mercy on us….

  48. Tammy D. Padgett says

    If you really want a world of hurt, just badmouth God’s Annointed…my opinion is look for that perfect church if you are not happy with your church pastor. BTW there is no perfect church. I have already forgotten the 7 things to do because I would rather uplift my Pastor Curtis Hall, and his awesome family than tear him down, and would rather uplift anyone as opposed to put them down. Think before you speak.

  49. Tyrone Davis says

    I know this is a bit off topic, but Thom Rainer, how do you suggest handling conflict amongst the ministerial staff and the Pastor? There are some hurts amongst our ministerial staff and I believe a 1 on 1 talk for the each of them with our Pastor would be beneficial. However, I am afraid of the effects those conversations may have on our Pastor. As an Elder in the church, I’ve been given oversight of the licensed ministers in my church and I am trying to rid the church of the “Staff Infection” so we can do real ministry and Kingdom Building.

  50. Renee Deaver says

    Preachers Kid Opinion: I have observed too many times in churches as an adult when my pastors are defeated, weak, and discouraged due to church members. Some thoughts… 1. Lift your pastor up in prayer 2. If you don’t agree with something he says or does…go to him or her and talk, most of the time there is a reason for his or her decision. 3. SERVE SERVE SERVE help your pastor, if you are a deacon or elder in your church you are to be serving not belittling your pastor
    4. Pastors, and their families are not perfect Do Not expect them to be. (even though… I was the perfect child) 5. ALL CHURCHES SHOULD MAKE SURE THEIR PASTOR HAS MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. There is no shame in Christ centered counseling, suicide rates for those in the ministry is rising. Lastly because I could go on and on….remember the pastor has children and any hurtful word that is spoken about their daddy or mommy hurts them more than you will EVER , Ever, ever know. (kids know even if you think they don’t)

  51. says

    I think the focus on the role of a pastor here is out of balance as the admonition in the Word is to all believers. Paul addresses the Ephesians with all of the “one another” statements. One should literally apply all of those points to relationships with all believers. In a way it’s proposing a hierarchal double standard that doesn’t exist in scripture.

  52. Deborah kim Davis says

    I honor my pastor and his beautiful wife daily by praying for them! Thank you Pastors Randolph & Leda Hall. Our church is blessed to have you both!

  53. tara schaller says

    make sure to “forget” when services are…..
    this man or woman of God does their pastoring out of love for God and his congregation. how painful when all the time, effort, prayer and so much more is spent and his “sheep” don’t come to hear what God has asked him to share. be it on sundays or mid-week services, or special services (even more so as preparation for those is probably done with much angst and sleeplessness), our pastors deserve our loyalty to our church as a sign of our unconditional support.

  54. Pastor's Wife says

    This is a great article, but I cried as I read it because my husband has experienced each of these and many more. He has been the pastor for over 15 years and is truly a servant leader. He survived cancer (which was probably brought on by 15 years of ministry stress). A deacon told him (in the presence of another deacon who did not defend my husband) that God had given him the cancer because of the wrong direction in which he was leading the church and that God was going to kill our family if he didn’t change. This deacon was always very helpful in the church and had never caused any problems. My husband came home pale, shaking and so shocked and distraught that I thought I would have to take him to the hospital. The deacon left our church several months after this incident. This is just one example out of hundreds of painful incidents that my husband has faced.

    How do you know when it is time to leave a church? My sweet husband is so faithful to the Lord. I live with him, so I know that he is the real deal. I see the tears he sheds for the people he pastors. But he is so unappreciated. He is not working for any rewards or recognition on this earth. He truly loves the Lord and that is why he works and serves the way he does. How can a pastor know that it is time to move on?

    • Connie Weaver says

      I wish your husband could have laughed that deacon off the church property. Such a ridiculous and awful thing to say to your husband!

    • RevMichelle says

      That is horrible. The devil invaded his heart. Someone got in his ear. No one should determine “God’s judgement” in the form of a curse.

      The deacons job is to be full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. He operated in neither in this case.

      I’m sorry that you had to hear such foul abuse of your family, or that another teammate would keep silent.

      Know that your labors are not in vain in the Lord.

      Keep supporting your husband and know that God weighs it all in the balance.

  55. Darryl Hill says

    One of my favorites (not really) is one I’ve seen done to multiple pastors I’ve worked with… catch the pastor on a Sunday morning just before he is to preach the Word and blast him about how he didn’t visit your great uncle that you never informed him about but he should have known OR just unload all your complaints that he needs to address immediately. Yes, that approach will not only hurt the pastor, it will almost certainly harm the entire church since the pastor will likely be completely distracted from preaching God’s Word.

    Great article. I think another to add would be this: instead of going TO the pastor with issues you may have with him, go to everyone else who will listen. I’ve dealt with this multiple times, personally. When a church member is bothered by something I did or said, rarely will they come to me directly. Instead I hear it second or third hand and it can’t be addressed properly. I find this is common, especially in small churches.

  56. C. Weaver says

    I experienced nearly everything on this list in my first call. Part of the problem was a senior pastor who didn’t know how to stand up for his staff. Another part of the problem was that as a new pastor, I let criticism bother me too much, which just invited more criticism from people who enjoy doing that sort of thing.

    I am so grateful now to be in a more supportive church environment, and for the confidence that comes from having more experience behind me.

  57. Kevin B. says

    Dr. Rainer,
    Sadly you are on point again. In my three short years as a pastor I have experienced all of the above and have one addition: repeatedly (and often) I hear “pastors come and go; but this is our church.”

    And that attitude is used to justify excluding my family and me from decisions that affect our church. Maybe in 20-30 years they might see that we’re in the same team?

  58. says

    I firmly believe that what ever you do will come back to you. The Pastor needs God’s trimming as well and part of the trimming is to experienced such ungodliness you mentioned. If you are a creative, forgiving, genius, progressing in his faith as a Pastor you can take the hurt. I had two Pastors in my life. One is good and the one is really bad. Pastors are the same with members. Good members or bad members as we call it but Jesus said He is the only good and no one good on earth. So truth also hurt. Hurting is part of growing. For you not to hurt or learn from the hurt and be hurt not at all just do what you know is better and best and glorifying to God the Father. Amen?

    • says

      On the other hand, a Pastor should also do something to give right feedback to those who are mockers. If Jesus was told once as Beelzebub how much more hurting words from these people a Pastor can received and as God’s mere servant? This is the truth all I can say really.

  59. Questioning says

    I agree mostly with the article, except point 6 and pastor’s expenditures, particularly in the context of how some churches view tithing. It is utterly frustrating to go to church, hear a message on how we MUST give a 10% tithe, pre-tax, to the church (even though there is scant Biblical evidence to support that but that’s another topic), then the following Sunday hear the pastor talk about his annual ski trip to Colorado or trip to Disney World with his family of 5. There are not many people who can afford a trip to Disney World, Colorado ski country, or any trip at all.

    That is not in any way to dismiss how hard a pastor works for his church, or to say that he shouldn’t be making enough to take that trip, but it is really insensitive of a pastor to get up and talk about all the great vacations he’s taking when so many in the church are struggling to make rent or put food on the table. Maybe this article should go both ways? Seven ways to hurt your flock?

    • mary fran grissom says

      Believe me as a pastors wife we need a break to disconnect ….there are so many things we carry on our shoulders no one has an idea unless they pastor a church……your pastor needs it along with his family because the family takes somewhat of a back burner…..pastor really do not make that much money and most take a second job…… my husband does and I work as well…….it a very high pressure job at times…it’s not just giving a sermon on Sunday it’s like running a corporation……..give the pastor’s a break…if you did this job you would be burnt out if you do not get away……we save up every year for a cruise so we are completely away from everything.

      • Questioning Again says

        I don’t doubt you and your husband work very hard, I am just saying there are many people who work hard, don’t make a lot of money and tithe to the church anyway. I am criticizing the pastors who preach about how YOU as a Christian need to sacrifice your vacation so the church gets it’s tithe, the pastor takes a lavish vacation that few in the church could afford. Then make the vacation a topic the following Sunday. To people who just gave up a vacation to tithe instead.

        • Jim says

          Tithing, if done with a reluctant heart, is of no benefit to the kingdom. You cannot out give the Lord. I know from personal experience that when you give with the proper heart and attitude, you will not lack. Your tithe is not an expense; it is giving back to God what is already His. Scripture says He loves a CHEERFUL giver. If you are giving begrudgingly, hesitantly, or selfishly, you will continue to live in defeat. Jealousy is a sinful attitude and you should never judge or resent others for the choices they make.

        • Rev Danny says

          Questioning…I understand completely where you are coming from having served on staff before under Pastors who took expensive vacations and such. However, I have been a Pastor 15 years now and I take a little offense at your comments. Here is why…1) My salary is public knowledge. I am at a small church that averages about 90 on Sundays. About 80% of our membership are on limited or fixed incomes. They know what I make which ain’t much considering education and experience but that is another discussion. 2) I pay all my own taxes and insurance so when you look at my salary, I bring home on average of 64 cents out of every dollar I am paid. 3) My tithes are my business between me and God and yes the Bible says we are to do that but that is also another discussion. But at the same time, I invite any of my members to check my tithes and offering records. They are welcomed to do so. With all that said, my wife and I have found like another poster that a cruise is the only vacation we can truly get away and rest. We take 1-2 cruises a year for our own benefit. We save our money to pay for the cruises and I go without a lot of things over a years time that many of my church members enjoy like going to college football games, playing golf and a whole bunch of other stuff. But my choice is to obey the Lord and I would encourage you to be careful with your words because you may not know the whole story. And please do not suggest I need to sacrifice my vacation to give to the church. That is ridiculous. God Bless you!

  60. Brad says

    I’m no pastor but I am in the music ministry in my church and a lot of these can be tied toward your music leaders. you’ll never make everyone happy even Jesus had naysayers but he didn’t let it bug him so why should we? We have the power of the holy spirit in Jesus lives inside of us if we are saved truly then we will know the lost from the found and the ppl that try to drag us down just need our help there lost scared and they want nothing more then to tear us down so stand tall stand strong and know your never alone God is with you always :) get into a a good group of Christian guys for accountability partners Jesus had 12 and he was the ultimate leader :). God bless guys :)

  61. says

    This is an awesome read.One the most hurtful things to me is when the members say they love you but don’t show it by their support of the ministry financially or physically (show up to church). It hurts when you have to try and do it all yourself. I pray all the time for my key leaders because sometimes they get tired trying to do it all. So for me the Kost hurtful thing is the lack of support!

  62. Joshua Marmon says

    A few add ins from a former youth pastor:

    Never EVER talk to the Youth Pastor about things that you are concerned about. Especially if you are on the church board. Make sure you ONLY talk to the youth workers, adult leaders, or other church goers. Make sure he/she ONLY hears about your concerns from other sources. That way your concerns can be taken way out of context.

    Make sure that if you are concerned about the youth pastor him/herself, that you only talk to the other board members or congregants. Never talk to the senior pastor about your problems.

    Always make little problems more important than people. Trust me, God cares more about the potato chip that was left on the floor to attract ants than He is about the student who needed to stay late to seek council about a family issue and seek the healing that he/she needs.

    Speaking of the potato chip; if your place of service is to clean the church, make sure you complain every time you have to do it. Remember, the youth pastor is never busy on or outside of youth night. He/she will appreciate your complaints about teens being messy. It’s something he/she was completely unaware of heading into youth ministry.

  63. Cody Carpenter says

    I did not go through all the comments, so if this has already been stated then disregard. Not considering all pastors as pastors (e.g. the youth/student pastor).

  64. Patti says

    And when the pastor and his wife are the verbally abusive ones? There are a lot of good pastors out there, but there are a few that should never have been in that position. Definitely not their calling.
    A pastor can do more damage with his words and actions. It works both ways. 7 ways to hurt your congregation…

  65. Father says

    Rather than addressing issues to the pastor, go to the bishop and manipulate them to get the pastor out.

  66. Sherry says

    I would add “Don’t give your Pastor AT LEAST a Cost of Living Pay Increase for 5 years in a row. Most People now days receive at least a 1-2% cost of living increase. Even those on “fixed income” such as social security receive a COLA each year. To not give this to the pastor because there aren’t enough finances coming in implies that everyone spends and enjoys their COLA but the pastor does not deserve one.

  67. X says

    I’m cracking up – I shared this on my Facebook profile, and a Church member that recently left (due to ‘concerns that the Church was not growing’ despite their not doing anything about it, nor have they mentioned this, or any other issue before) responded:

    This is a two way street – Pastors hurt their congregations about as often.

    Number 5, all the way.

    I’m tempted to respond – but it would be futile.

  68. Tim says

    Amen Bro Todd that is what I was going to say the members that aren’t faithful to church is one of the things that cause me to struggle more than anything.

  69. says

    Perhaps it is time for the critic to find a new church when these become the norm rather than an occasional occurrence. However, because churches are made up of imperfect people, these complaints will not go away. It is not the pastor who makes the church, but rather the Lord working in and within the members of the church to do the work He has asked us to do.

  70. Em Smythe says

    How to hurt your pastor. Refuse to find your own spiritual food during the week then complain how you never seem to grow much after the pastor’s sermon. You’ll never grow in your faith by eating once a week, no matter how nourishing that one meal might be.

  71. Rev. Kimberly Jordan says

    Something which hurts this pastor is to refer to pastors with only male pronouns, and to refer to pastors’ spouses only as wives.

    And the form won’t let me complete the math sentence four + 6 = 10.

      • Jim says

        Don’t take offense, ladies. Much of Scripture also uses male-only pronouns, although it applies to the whole. Remember also that LifeWay is a Southern Baptist institution and the SBC does not recognize women pastors. It isn’t sexism or bias, just the way we interpret Scripture.

  72. mary fran grissom says

    As a pastors wife you never live alone live in a fish bowl. it’s a 24/7 job. It breaks our hearts for our hurting members. A pastor takes on everyones problems,concerns,loss of friends and families because of death, family problems,trying to stay on top of staff and ministries in our church, in continual prayer,visits people in the hospital and nursing homes, seeking the Lord for sermons and how to confront and deal with situations that arise and pray that the church’s finances are doing well and bills are paid……..we have little time for our own family because they live far away from us…..however with all that said there comes great satisfaction that we are living for the Lord ….this is His calling and he has surrendered to what the Lord wants him to do. Living a very blessed life !!!!!!!

  73. James A. Way says

    Thom, thanks for a great post. Here’s some I would include from personal experience. Praise and honor him and family the first few months and into the first year but then stop. Tell him he will nee to take a pay cut while the other staff gets to stay the same or get a raise — a violation of federal labor laws by the way. (If the budget can’t afford to keep salaries or to give raises then everyone and every ministry shares in burden.) Never afford the pastor an opportunity to voice his concerns and complaints (afforded to congregation and leaders) without labeling him as a whiner and complainer. Tell him his expectations are too high, especially when you’re doing nothing but dying now. Tell him when dealing with spiritual issues, “I don’t care what the Bible says, this is what we’re going to do.”

  74. Hunter says

    “Don’t defend the pastor”

    Really? Because you have to agree with someone always? Jeez, Christianity.

    • jonathon says

      The ideal is to defend an action, person, or activity that one disagrees with, with no one the wiser about one’s actual position on said matter.

      Doing so requires both good communication skills, and a willingness to explore and understand that which one disagrees with.

  75. Jenna says

    Assume your pastor needs to hear what ‘you’ have to say about the insight he receives from The Lord. Give him plenty of advice (emasculating him and arrogantly tell him what you feel he does not know).

    Pick apart everything he does, because, of course, it is his job to feed your spiritually and he needs to be told if he is not doing that well. He, of course, never needs to be poured into. He is an endless supply, right?

    It is also really important to attack any weakness he may have so that he never has a safe place to ‘be’, with no one to talk with about any struggles he may have ‘safely’…that way he can hide and struggle in silence until it overcomes him, destroys his life and then you can really kick him when he is down. Keep shooting the wounded…

    All excellent ways to destroy a pastor…

  76. says

    As a pastors wife of a fairly new church – not a church plant, not affliated, no mentors, no apostolic father, or any other way you may look at things, so I turn to the internet and look for trusted sources of wisdom and input – it is a bittersweet feeling knowing that reading this and all the comments are so healing and soothing to my soul. Bitter that we experience this kind of hurt and sweet that we have it in common and it is not just us!

    I was nodding my head in “amen” as I read through the 7 listed ways to hurt a pastor, as we have experienced many, and I cried and laughed as I read through the many comments.

    I just want to say reading all this helps me to be able to live out Galatians 6:9 so Thank You.

  77. Janie says

    Look, I have a great deal of respect for most men of the cloth, but what about a preacher that came into a good situation and did not respect his congregation? Some need to be called out on their misgivings to keep them accountable and to not run the church into the ground. My Mom and Dad left the Church that they loved for 49 years because of the current pastor. Their church was paid for, the church owned properties, and had several hundred thousand dollars in the bank. It was growing. This man came in sold everything moved them into another building, and now years later, they can hardly pay the interest on the loan. Anyone that tries to help or questions what he has done, he manages to bad mouth them and they are so hurt they leave. He has been caught in lies and thievery and will not leave the church. He has almost lost it to forclosure 2 or 3 times. He did not run my parents off, they chose to leave because of his treatment of close friends of theirs. These are good people and his jealousy consumed him. What do you do when you have a preacher like him, and you love your church and it is breaking your heart when you see all the blood, sweat and tears of the many before him just disintegrate before your eyes? Preachers need to be held accountable. In my opinion, if you don’t question sometimes and you only blindly follow, you have a cult

  78. says

    Of course, it works both ways. I have heard pastors make hurtful and often judgmental remarks about congregations and congregants. I’ve caught myself from time to time. I’m guessing we all, pastors and members, are struggling with this church thing!

  79. Dan says

    The typical pastor leaves a church because of 8 disgruntled, controlling people. If the happy folks speak up and encourage the pastor, he will stay. If the pastor stays, the 8 disgruntled people will leave, and the church will be a better place and see growth. Anything that is not honored and celebrated will eventually leave your life, including a great pastor. Pastors are taught to “Go where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated.” Hebrews 13:17 (MSG) “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?”

  80. Alex says

    Share something in confidence with a friend only to have it come up in a leadership meeting discussing your dismissal. Betrayal

  81. Russ Muse says

    I did not read all of these so this may be repetitive.

    Constantly attack, accuse and question the Pastor’s integrity, character and motives!

  82. Rob Mhoon says

    No offense to anyone, but if you are a Christian you will be persecuted according to our Lord and Savior. Not trying to defend anyone trying to hurt their pastor and this just my opinion. Pastor’s families will always be criticized because there are crazy First Ladies out there who try to run the church by running their husbands also pastor’s kids are often the wildest kids in the church. So if a pastor can’t lead his own family then how can he lead the people of God. Secondly pastors are overpaid. Being a pastor is not your job it is your calling. Jesus was never on salary. People gave to him but not out of necessity. People should be inquisitive about the pastor’s expenditures because we live in a time where there are a lot of businesses disguised as churches these days. Tons of false shepherds out there. You have pastors with private planes while people are hungry in their churches. There are pastors out there who untouchable. They build there kingdoms on Earth and wonder why they are criticized, little do they know that this there reward. If you live right put your selfishness to the side and show you congregation the love of Christ you will not have these problems.

    • Josh says

      Rob Mhoon

      Wow! My wife and I pastored for over 10 yrs. I trained other ministers and sat on 6 different state boards for the denomination I was a part of. my family was put through hell and myself and loved through heaven by church people. I have been bullied by “God fearing people” salary cut while I was working sometimes 4 jobs outside the ministry. I have actually had to make phone calls and beg for funds to feed and cloth my family while in the ministry. The whole time being being beaten up emotionally.

      When we left our last pastorate to move back to where we grew up to take care of my ailing mother in law then we were forgotten by our denomination and not used at all by them while we watched churches around us fail because church councils would limit pastors to death.

      I am sorry if you as a church goer has had some bad times and have micro managed your pastor but try to look at the other side of the coin and judge yourself from that perspective. As for me I will not be back in a church as long as I can help it.

  83. Sandi HIre says

    Wait until Sunday morning at prayer time to tell your pastor that someone has died, or is in the hospital. And then complain that the pastor didn’t go to visit the family or the one who is in the hospital.

    • john says

      And make no effort to visit that sick person yourself. Instead, constantly tell yourself your job is to tell the pastor what to do, when to visit the sick, who to pray for.

  84. James Matlock says

    Gather together a coup among some key members to help run off the pastor.
    When the good members begin to leave the church because they’re tired of putting up with years of conflict and dysfunction, blame the pastor, criticize his leadership skills and tell him that he needs to leave.
    At each monthly business meeting, vote to take away parts of your pastor’s salary package and designate your giving in order to make it look like the general fund is down to justify the changes to the pastor’s salary.
    Get a student at school to bully the pastor’s children as part of your effort to run him off.
    When the pastor’s wife needs a medical procedure, call the insurance provider ahead of time to cancel the pastor’s insurance policy, forcing him to pay for it himself.
    Once the pastor has left, make contact with members of the pastor’s new church in order to slander him and cause trouble for him in his new ministry.
    This was my experience from my first church right out of seminary.

  85. says

    What would I add…

    #1- say things like “That’s the pastor’s job” and therefore do not do it yourself
    #2- rally your troops of opposition before going to your pastor In Love over a disagreement
    #3- Saying things like “our numbers are down… something must be wrong”

  86. James says

    Gather together a coup among some key members to help run off the pastor.
    When the good members begin to leave the church because they’re tired of putting up with years of conflict and dysfunction, blame the pastor, criticize his leadership skills and tell him that he needs to leave.
    At each monthly business meeting, vote to take away parts of your pastor’s salary package and designate your giving in order to make it look like the general fund is down to justify the changes to the pastor’s salary.
    Get a student at school to bully the pastor’s children as part of your effort to run him off.
    When the pastor’s wife needs a medical procedure, call the insurance provider ahead of time to cancel the pastor’s insurance policy, forcing him to pay for it himself.
    Once the pastor has left, make contact with members of the pastor’s new church in order to slander him and cause trouble for him in his new ministry.

    • Ken says

      Have you ever read “Antagonists in the Church”, by Kenneth Haughk? You’ve just described what he calls a “hard-core antagonist”. If people are going to those lengths to destroy you, you’d best get out of there as soon as you possibly can, because you’re probably fighting a losing battle.

  87. June says

    # 1 way to hurt your Pastor/Priest or any church leader is to fail to pray for God’s will in their life and for Spiritual Protection for them and their families.

    Pray fervently for relationships in the church between leaders and congregation to be Godly, Spirit Filled and Honest.

  88. Joe Turner says

    If you want to hurt your pastor. Focus on the placement of furniture in the worship center, how many courses and hymns that are sung. Then comment about the flowers and what you do not like about the service, how other staff members used to do it. Then show how unspiritual you really are by never making application to the message the Holy Spirit has placed on his heart. Assume the message is to whom it may concern. Pastor’s have a real hard and stuff job, only another pastor can understand. What kind of church would my church be if every church member were just like me.

    Brethren keep serving, preaching and reaching until He comes. Press on.

  89. just me says

    First of all, let me say that I have a great Pastor, however, I would like to add to this conversation.
    It can be unhealthy and unproductive to leave these as the sole (or collective) factors for a Pastor’s adverse relationship with his/her members or his/her treatment from members.
    While I would hope that all Ministers were treated well and I wouldn’t agree with their being mistreated, the truth is that all Pastors are not created equal. So where does one draw the line? I don’t believe anyone (or only a very few) is going to get a carte blanche pass to do and say what they want – in today’s age. Long gone are the days of respect for authority, as it was in days gone by and, likewise, there are some Pastors who have aided in the decline in respect (just like with some teachers and some parents).
    Sure, because of our Christian beliefs, we might hope that we would rise above some of this – but the flesh can be weak, on both sides of the pulpit. In the past, I’ve watched some Pastors use the Pulpit as a shield to call people out and not in the Spiritual or Biblical sense. It came across as blatant payback for something. I’ve seen a Pastor refer to prostitutes and homosexuals in the most vile and disgusting manner. ‘ve seen a Pastor shy away from things, so as not to perhaps cause hurt feelings – but I’m pretty sure that avoiding an uncomfortable situation does nothing to help it (generally speaking). I’ve seen a Pastor imply or fail to correct a talking head who heavily implied that if a Member left the church, they were walking away from God (in one case, the father had been unemployed and finally found work, which unfortunately required them to relocate). And don’t even get me started on the reports of multiple, multiple violations by some Priests.
    To be sure, I’m not implying that Pastors should be mistreated. I do believe though that:
    1. Just like other professions, there can be confusion about what is expected or what is appropriate or what the protocol is for various concerns or issues.
    2. Just because some of the items listed may be hurtful, that doesn’t necessarily mean the issue completely rests with the Member (although it might).
    3. Sometime Pastors make this type of behavior acceptable and even encourage it, when they bash other Pastors or Ministries and question the richer lifestyles of other Pastors, from the Pulpit.
    I do believe that the article is excellent for members to consider and will be evaluating what I might do to be more supportive of my Pastor. Thank you for your time. I hope you can receive my comments, as not being directed at any of you.

    God Bless.

  90. says

    1. Be an idle skeptic-
    Those who are saying the most are often doing the least. If you’re going to knock on someone’s ideas, especially ideas with spiritual intentions, you better have been a part of them.
    2. Be a confrontational coward-
    The old “I don’t like pastor’s (fill in the blank) or his method of (fill in the blank) and I know this deacon or elder will understand me” trick. It’s guaranteed to wipe your shepherds feet right out from under him and tempt him to beat his sheep with his staff. No, seriously, it’s hurtful and it’s backbiting.

  91. says

    Never support your pastor when he presents the clear teachings of the Christian faith, which are meant for all Christians in all times, and are essential requirements for Christian leaders to abide by. Especially when these teachings are also clearly expressed in the church’s doctrinal statement and have been repeatedly used since their creation as truth standards by which pastors, missionaries, interns, teachers and church leaders are expected to agree. As a church leader never be held to the same level of doctrinal accountability as your pastor. Always be held to a different, often unspoken standard that is just based upon relationships.

  92. says

    I have two to add.

    First, as a church leader (Elder or Deacon) , always convey criticism that is second hand to the pastor. This works best when it’s a leaders wife. Never tell the pastor who the naysayers are; just tell them the complaint. The more trivial the better. If that doesn’t work, send nasty notes without a signature. The pastor is the public figure and can handle it. The naysayers privacy must always be protected.

    Second, treat the pastor like a paid employee who has 10 (or 130 supervisors). He is paid to do your bidding. Never treat him like a team member or as part of the family He is always an outsider..

  93. thanksalot says

    8. Talk behind your pastor’s back. Make sure s/he finds out about it from another source. Passive aggressive behavior is always a great way to communicate. *sarcasm*

  94. Sandra Alondra says

    So what about the things that pastors do to hurt Gods people?
    -Many pastors think they are greater than most!
    – If you contribute then they care for you forget it if u dont!
    -what when they criticize you for playing an instrument better than their children?
    -What when the use the microphone to put fear in the church?
    -what when the belittle the people because they have problems?
    -what when they use what you’ve confide to them against you?
    -what when they manipulate the people to give them gifts?
    And so much more pastors do that hurt the people! They forget many things when they become pastors!

    • Mark says

      Sandra, sounds like you’ve had a bad experience. Remember no one is perfect, the things you’ve mentioned should be addressed with your pastor to help him understand how he hurt you and others, and to help him to be a better pastor.

  95. PK says

    I am a PK. My father, mother, 2 sisters and myself have served in 7 churches over 40 years, doing every thing from cleaning the toilets to typing the bulletins to leading VBS to singing the special music. We have done it all for God came first, family second. All 7 themes happened to us in all 7 churches over time, usually because there were one or two powerful families whose toes got stepped on by the Truth of the Word. I’ve seen my father and my sister struggle through depression and I have also been there myself. What God taught me through all of it was it was never about us, it was never about them. It’s always about GOD. Bad, horrible things happen, but Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. Our Saviour knows. He calls us to come unto him when we labor and are heavy laden. Likewise, children of God, do not place your faith in a man, place your trust in Christ alone. It’s about you and God.

  96. Casey says

    It always hurts to be treated badly by those who you love. Christ died for His church and we love them and care for them. We sacrifice time with our families, and many other comforts. When one in the church leads a lost person into the arms of Jesus, we REJOICE! It then all becomes worth it.

    Just remember meanness comes from somewhere. It doesn’t just spring up for no reason. The path of Love , real love, will take you down a pretty awesome path that may allow some of those crazy, hateful church members to heal. I’ve seen it happen.

  97. Barbara says

    Telling people at coffee fellowship 3 weeks after the new Pastor has come, “We can get rid of her in 3 years!”

  98. Mark says

    Keeping a record of the mistakes your pastor has made and of the things you don’t like about him and taking them to the church leaders in an effort to get your pastor to leave or be fired.

    Don’t try to build a case against your pastor, but try to build him up and help him to be better. Constructive criticism may be the best thing for him.

  99. Brooke Willson says

    I’ve just retired from ministry after forty years. I was a campus minister for five years, a District Superintendent for four years, and the rest in parish ministry — from rural three-point circuits to a large suburban congregation. While all your suggestions are true, it seems to me that most pastoral wounds are self-inflicted. There are certainly dysfunctional parishioners and congregations, some bordering on or crossing over to the demonic. But my experience has been that evil in the congregation is empowered by pastoral dysfunction. Congregations look to the pastor to model faithfulness, including how to respond to assault. In ever congregation I served, early in my tenure there was a largely symbolic conflict, usually literally or figuratively over keys — who controlled access to the property or its ministries. Clergy who react defensively set the stage for further conflict. Clergy who respond to conflict — including personalized conflict — calmly, deliberately, and without being distracted from the Main Thing let the bullies know their tactics won’t work. As I told a parishioner who was always the first and loudest to point out any mistake I made, “The most important thing I do here is to show you how to be wrong right.”

  100. Neophytos says

    Good article. Praying for one’s pastor daily should be of paramount importance simply because of this list.

  101. Rich says

    There are certainly times when the pastor needs to have an issue brought to his attention as it relates to his preaching. However, it is very important to pick the right time and venue for that discussion. The right time to tell him you think he missed it isn’t right after he’s poured himself out in two sermons and is hot and tired. (Trust me, I’ve made that mistake. I know whereof I speak…) Remember that the truth is important, but to paraphrase Paul if I have the truth but have not love, I really have nothing at all. Set a time to talk to him, calmly and dispassionately present what you believe are your issues, and then give him the courtesy of expressing his thoughts and views. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” so the Proverb goes. As you interact with him you may find that there is an angle or position that you hadn’t considered. Even if not, approach him in love and with a sincere desire to help him be better and you’ll not only have a great pastor, he’ll also become your friend.

  102. Katie says

    This article and all the feedback just break my heart! I have experienced denominational politics that tore apart my little church and ousted two great pastors, and now I’m so happy I’ve found a wonderful church — Twin Lakes, Aptos CA — with wise, wonderful and much appreciated pastors and leaders! They are open, honest and real, overflowing with love and grace. Pastors, you might be the only group that gives us moms any competition for the prize of World’s Hardest Job. Keep your eyes on Jesus, know that He sees you and is with you. And all you church-goers, keep your eyes on Him, too. Pray for your pastor whether you like him/her or not, whether you think s/he is doing a good job or even — maybe especially — if you suspect s/he is up to no good!

  103. genesis barnett says

    another way to hurt your pastor is to not pay him like the church had promised and pay the bills the church promised to pay if he was to come and be pastor…..

  104. The Other One says

    So true. The same ones hurting the pastors are always the same ones in the mix of the church splits, disagreements and other controversies. Sad enough, those folks really go after other members who don’t drink from the same cup of opinion. Toe the line of the country club or be marginalized, and worse.

  105. Brenton says

    I would like to see a post on the ways pastors hurt their congregations…. I feel there is 2 sides to every story and even in these ways of hurting your pastor, there are ways the pastors can hurt the congregation as well. If this is something you’d be interested to write an article about, I’d be very interested to read!

  106. Reader says

    Gossip is the worst. I think many other things can be forgiven if dealt with directly, but nothing hurts me worse in ministry than gossip.

    But if I had to add another one, I would add “Constantly tell your pastor you value the time he or she spends with his or her family, but also feel free to call about non-urgent matters any hour which seems appropriate.”

  107. Craig says

    This is just about the most disguising article I have ever had the displeasure of reading.
    The basic consensuses I get is “do not think for yourself, your pastor knows best.” This is
    exactly how religion has been for decades and thanks to science and reason it’s getting better
    but it is so sad to see that an article that many are going to fall for because of the self delusion made
    stronger by people with no understanding of anything other than the Bible. All you have done is taken
    a simple (and not needed) job and elevated it above any other, replace the word “pastor” with “basket ball player”, “NASCAR driver”, or “favorite actor/actress” and you have the same baling non-sense. The person who wrote this article should be ashamed of themselves, but since they are probably a pastor that makes far too much money, gets several vacations a year, and pays no taxes, I’m sure they won’t.

    • john says

      Are you and Mat (another person commenting) related? Your so called facts are wrong. I pay income tax and the full FICA. Your emoyer pays half your FICA. I pay it all. For someone who relies so heavily on reason, you should really check your facts before posting. I guess you can investigate it, or just go on faith of what someone told you.

  108. Carole Satterly says

    I have not read all the comments so I hope I don’t reiterate something that has already been said. We left the ministry after years of this sort of behaviour. I am not a minister but I did work beside my husband supporting him in his vision for the Church. It seems people did not really care too much about ‘sinners’ . As we began each new assignment with getting to know the church people and the surrounding neighbourhood we quickly learned that the church people were pretty much settled with the “us four and no more” attitude. How sad as those we met in the community and were blessed to share the Good News with would come to church for worship and it was the pastors family who were the ones to welcome them and help them feel comfortable. My children were the best. Once board member once said, “we don’t want that kind here” at least she said it in the board meeting and I simply asked her, ” what kind? black people? You know Jesus died for them too” she didn’t know what to say. Sadly, this and other even worse things have happened that we are now out of full time ministry. Have not been to a holiness church in years, We were asked to leave the one we were serving but told to go to another one where we could worship but that was it. the other one was not close so we just looked for other places but nothing felt right. We have recently moved to England and have been looking at the Anglican church. quite different from my upbringing but they seem to have the right vision of being in the community and living a life that reflects Jesus Christ. years ago a former pastor offered my husband this advice when he was pondering going into the ministry, If you can do anything else, do it. we wish we had followed that advice.

  109. says

    I had a guy tell me I needed to dress better and lose a couple of pounds so people would respect me more. Pretty sure Jesus isn’t too wrapped up in my personal appearance.

  110. kate says

    And here are a few ways to hurt your congregants.

    1. Talk about their private matters with other congregants, without their permission.
    2. Ignore them when they enter the room; greet the people next to them enthusiastically.
    3. Only communicate with them by email, and then only to ask for help with some function.
    4. If one member of a couple stops attending services, don’t give any indication to the other that you’ve noticed or that you care.
    5. If both members of a couple send letters asking to be removed from church membership rolls after 25 years of faithful attendance, volunteering, and financial support, don’t respond in any way.
    6. If you see former members on the street, greet them cheerily, as if they’re strangers with no particular connection or importance to you.
    7. Publicly proclaim your commitment to living out a compassionate personal ministry.

  111. Mat says

    This entire article was nothing but Christian propaganda to discourage free thought. The author took a job (a fairly insignificant one at that) and elevated it to a higher status than any job. You would easily replace the word “pastor” with “president”, “cop”, or “football player” and have the exact same results. Pastors should not be immune to criticism more than anyone else. So I will now go through this list and give my thought on each of the seven things they name. Before I begin I know that it will not change your mind, your mind is already made up and nothing will likely ever change that, you replace evidence with faith and believe it is sufficient enough; very well, I will not question that. These are my thought and my thoughts alone, you may retort if you like, but I will likely not respond.

    Criticize the pastor’s family.

    I remember attending a church once where the pastor’s son was quite a rude, arrogant, and belligerently haughty fool. He obviously thought he was quite better than most people in the church an pretty much picked on every other kid, at times even getting violent. The pastor knew, but never once spoke out, and the congregation never said anything because it was the pastor’s son. Had just one person criticized the pastor and his teaching values, who knows, maybe he would have done something to change his son’s cruel and hatful ways. Years later I remember talking to the pastors son and telling him I apologized if I ever said anything out of the way to him, he just replied with “Well thanks, I can’t think of anything, but that means a lot to me.” As if he never did anything wrong. Families deserve criticism from time to time, especially if they are hypocrites as I believe a lot of pastors and their families are.

    Tell the pastor he is overpaid

    Most pastors are, according to the 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, Christianity Today’s bi-annual survey of compensation levels based on 4,600 participating churches, shows senior pastors’ salary and benefits at an average $82,938 this year. Plus they pay no taxes, just to put that in perspective I am a web developer and make less than $30,000 a year and pay taxes.

    Don’t defend the pastor

    If the man has done no wrong then there should be nothing to defend and if you have a good defense I would suggest it be used. What most often happens though is that a pastor does have something to hide, someone tells someone else what that thing is (as all good Christians do) and the other Christian just goes “Well that’s just not true.” Then never investigates the matter or brings it up ever again.

    Tell your pastor what an easy job he has

    Uh, they do… they preach three times a week for one hour at most each time. Now sure they sometimes have other things to do as well like visit the sick in the hospital or maybe attend a church meeting about how to make more money get from the believer’s wallet to the offering plate, but all in all their job is very easy. I would love the have a pastor’s job on a pastor’s salary.

    Be a constant naysayer

    I can see this, though I guess also it depends on what the naysaying is. When I was a Christian I was going through a really rough time having not had a job for 17 months. My pastor was the only source of comfort I had, the only person I felt I could openly speak to about my struggles and after a while he started avoiding me. “I’ll pray for you” is supposed to be a magical cure all, but it never really is, is it?

    Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures

    I like how the author found a trip to Disney World didn’t seem like such a big deal, know how many times I’ve been to Disney World? 0, know how many times my last pastor has been to Disney World? At least 3 times in the five years I was there. He also got regular vacations, but every time he took one it was always “long overdue”. Know how many times I’ve had a vacation in the past five years? You guessed it, 0. He also drives a very nice Cadillac SUV and his wife as a similar vehicle. Know what I drive? A 2000 Ford Contour that’s about ready to break down. Now maybe it’s just me, but I find something wrong with this picture.

    Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor

    Lord forbid we compare our pastor to someone else, it might make him feel bad and then God will surely strike us dead … wait, what’s that? No, he won’t? Hm, I wonder why that is? Oh well, God works in mysterious ways I suppose.

    • Reginald Gabel says

      Mat, sorry that you have been hurt by a pastor. I can promise you that all are not as you have stated. There is no need to argue the points but I hope that you will seek a church with a pastor who truly will minister to you. I do believe prayer works and will pray for you hope you will allow God to work in your life.

    • Justin Lucas says


      Just a few thoughts:
      As far as compensation goes, did you know that a while back a survey done by (I think) the NY Times showed that the role of senior pastor was within the top ten most stressful jobs in America? Pastors also do much more than peach and visit. The organization, planning, and running of the church is a constant full-time job on its own without the hours of sermon prep and being on call 24/7 even on vacation! Almost every pastor I know had had to leave vacation to tend to a Church need at some point in their ministry. As to criticizing family, I think he is more referring to unrealistic expectations rather than calling out real and serious problems. Defending your pastor is another big deal; sometimes church members can be unreasonably cruel and harsh, especially in the most of major change within the church. Pastors need to be supported in those situations, but you are right, when they need correction then it is the church’s job to do so. Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want a pastor’s job, unless you want to be a bad, unproductive one. Conflict is daily, change is hard, communicating effectively is even harder, they must constantly change and adapt. The skill set required for effectively leading a church could easily earn triple figures in the secular world.

    • Ken says

      I can’t speak for other pastors, but my salary package is nowhere near the figure you mentioned. It’s not even half that much. I’d also like to know where you got the idea that pastors don’t pay taxes. If that’s true, then the IRS owes me a HUGE refund. As for it being an easy job, I’d love to see you try it for a few weeks. With your attitude, you wouldn’t last very long.

      You grumble about propaganda, but your comment is little more than that. I will be glad to continue this discussion after you’ve grown up.

    • john says

      According to the IRS not only do I have to pay income tax, I am also considered self employed and pay in the full 15 percent to social security. Please check your facts. Thanks.

  112. Justin Lucas says

    I would love to see a spin off article, “7 ways to hurt your youth/student pastor.” I am heavily involved and networked with several of our local churches, pastors, and youth pastors and, as a youth pastor I find that we get walked all over and treated worse than or senior pastors. Sometimes, unfortunately that treatment even comes from the senior pastor! From comments about salary, to expectations to fulfill our job requirements and then about 20 other things, to being treated like the junior varsity, and even being treated and told that we are just young guys that play with the kids for a few hours a week.

    Most people don’t understand! I am responsible for middle school, high school, and college students and their families. Plus I am the guy behind the scenes doing sound, setting up events, helping at funerals, running to hospitals, etc. All for 30k less than our senior pastor and just as many responsibilities!

  113. Anonymous says

    Thanks Tom for the article. I enjoyed the read and the added comments. I have pastored for 18 years and am now experiencing the most difficult church I have ever been apart of. We have one leader who is given pretty much full reign of everything. And believe me he takes it in a passive aggressive way. Recently he called me on the phone and demanded I stop whatever I was doing and then proceed to order me to take care of something. I bit my lip but am not sure I can again. He continually points out everything wrong and rarely if ever says much positive. I am trying to love this man but find it growing more and more difficult. I am struggling with guilt of my own because I have spoken to a few others about him. I have personally gone to him first but now feel it is pointless if not dangerous for me. Experience of this sort of stuff is always easy to talk about but difficult to live in real time. My children are seeing the effects of this and I hope they are not scarred by the repercussions. I imagine I have little time left here assuming things are being prepared for my departure. Any prayers are appreciated.

  114. KStock says

    Remember that if anything needs doing in the church, it’s up to the Pastor to do it. Don’t offer to do it yourself. Don’t even mention that it needs doing – after all, the Pastor should realize that for himself. It’s not as though he has anything important to do anyway.

  115. KStock says

    Any Pastor worth the name cares deeply for his church, so the most effective way to attack him will probably be by our attitude towards the church. A book (in French) on running any type of club or association offers this advice, which I have turned into a sermon:


    1. Don’t go to meetings. If you do go, turn up late.
    2. Criticize the work of the leaders and other members.
    3. Don’t take responsibility for anything.
    4.Complain if you aren’t a member of the leadership committee (select vestry, eldership, whatever it’s called in your church). If you are a member, don’t go to the meetings, or if you do go, don’t participate.
    5. If someone asks your opinion, say that you don’t have one.
    6. After the meeting is over, complain to everyone that you didn’t understand a word of it or say how it should have been run.
    7. Only do the absolute minimum, but when the others get down to work, complain that it’s being run by a clique.
    8.Give a little money as possible and as late as possible.
    9. Don’t try to bring anyone else to the church.
    10. Complain that the church bulletin doesn’t contain anything to interest you, but don’t offer an article, don’t make any constructive suggestions, and don’t try to improve things.

    • Ken says

      Good stuff. If I may, I would like to expand a few of your points:

      #5. …then complain about how no one wants to hear your opinion.
      #7. …then complain about how no one ever wants to help out.
      #8. …then grumble about the church’s finances.
      #9.. …then grumble about the church’s low attendance.

  116. John W Carlton says

    You can expand this to include church staff as well as the Pastor. I have served as both staff member and pastor. Love your pastor and staff. In my last interim position I challenged the church to pray for their pastor and their new pastor 5 minutes each day. It made a difference in that church and it made a difference in not only me, but the new man as he came in and took hold of the reins.

  117. Ken says

    Here’s my addition to the list, but it has several parts:

    a) Get upset because of some stupid (and relatively trivial) offense by one of the teenagers.
    b) Blow it way out of proportion.
    c) Talk to several other people in the church about the offense (and of course, embellish the story each time you tell it), but don’t tell the pastor or the parent of the offending teen.
    d) Announce to the pastor that you’re leaving the church because of said offense. After all, you don’t your own children to be under such bad influences (never mind the bad example you’re setting with your own gossipy tongue).

    Yes, this happened to me just in the last week!

  118. revchicoucc says

    Thom, this is an accurate and helpful post.

    I agree with some other commenters: you should do one on seven ways a pastor can hurt a congregation. One of those should be: Go into the pulpit unprepared. Another: Refuse to learn from your lay leaders — they know stuff I don’t.

    On the issue of “thick skin,” a church leader I admire once said: “A leader in the church doesn’t need a thick skin. A leader in the church needs a centered spirit.”

    That insight changed my capacity to deal with hurtful behavior, by making it a matter of prayerful response rather than impulsive reaction.

    When I was a lay leader, my pastor asked for a change in the worship service, and asked me to implement it on a Sunday when I was a worship leader. I told him two things: I did not agree with the change and did not think it would enrich the worship experience in the way he imagined. And, I would do as he asked, implement as he asked, and I would do that because he was the pastor and should have what he asks for just because he is the pastor. We could talk about it later. Tears came to his eyes on that one, and he said he appreciated my leadership — he knew he could count on me to express my own views and respect him at the same time.

    I implemented the change. He came to me after worship and told me I was right, it didn’t work. Then we discussed it and came up with a better approach.

    Today, as a pastor, I thank God I have lay leaders like that, and I tell them, too.

    One way a pastor can hurt is congregation is to never say “Thank you.”

  119. says

    I am a pastor’s wife too. For 2 Sundays in a row, there have been complaints about a board member who works very hard in the church however, the one complaining doesn’t do anything. They make suggestions but won’t offer to carry them out or take charge. This past Sunday, more complaints. We really shot ourselves in the foot because we have so many events going on that it is literally draining everyone…On top of that, we had eight graduates in our service and three people moving so we had church dinner. Sure it was great seeing 75 people in our worship service but the behind-the-scenes- complaining was getting ridiculous. Believe me, I was ready to tell my husband this job is NOT for me. But then I would be giving the enemy and foothold. I’m not about to do that. SO here’s my humble point of view…..when we’re doing good and in the center of the God’s will, be ready for the battle of your life because the devil doesn’t like it and he wants to see us fail. If the devil is leaving us alone, we better start worrying….although…I do wish he would give us a break and bother someone else for a change. :-)

  120. Deb says

    1. Don’t appreciate the hard work, prayers, sacrifice, responsibility, love and care that are willingly given to the church family by him or his wife.

    2. Don’t treat his family time as important. If a pastor’s family should be his priority. God gave him his wife and children before He gave him the church. If a pastor’s family falls apart it, it will affect his ministry and the church. Their family needs time together as much or more than ours do. Satan has a target on a pastor and his family. If he can damage or destroy their family, he can hurt or destroy the church and its testimony. Pastors families sacrifice so much for the Lord, the ministry and the church.

    3. Gossip, backbite about him, his family or the church family.

    4. Don’t take care of his wife. The position of a pastor’s wife is sometimes minimized, taken for granted and unappreciated. She is his help meet, prayer partner and support in the ministry as well as being his wife.

    5. Sit…don’t participate in the church. By doing this, you don’t show support for the ministry or for your pastor.

    6. Don’t pray for him, his family or the church. They need all our prayers…for God’s protection, wisdom, grace, love, direction, strength, comfort and power.

    God has greatly blessed our church family with our pastor, pastor’s wife and family. There are always ways that we need to grow and improve in being the church family we need to be. I believe we are striving to be a blessing to our pastor and his family.

    • JI says

      I work at a Baptist Church for a Pastor who cares very deeply for the church and members. Members will go into the hospital for major surgery and not let the Pastor know. Other members will call and want to know why he wasn’t at the hospital with them. Now can he be there if no one tells him?

  121. Keith says

    The bible shows leaders how to set up their teams to lead. Leadership teams work together to bring appeasement and comfort to the church while allowing work in the ” fields of white” to be ministered to. By not following the “word” and setting up teams allows areas in the church where division can happen. Even in a team there is a plan for the leader of that team to have two close companions for more private in-depth discussions honing each other. Iron sharpens iron. Good members will give strength to others leaders to become better in their leadership
    A good leadership team should begin to flow together working as one body to bring the best results. Strong team leaders with experience can bring great ideas to the “table” as an highly educated person. Strong leaders who have worked many years under other great leaders are usually well trained. Educated persons brings planning and streamlining and are valuable in team planning.
    Teams have to have a community focus. Understanding that each member of the church is ” a member of the community” and every new member is just another addition of that number keeps the goals of the church in proper focus.
    ( Our focus “should not” be inward) what we can do for us. Inward wants brings bickering and name calling. Bickering in the bible brought a common promise of God’s dislike of the situation. As I read the book of Exodus and see God’s attitude towards bickering I begin to pray for strength to keep bickering out of my speech.

    Planning time and group family times brings everyone closer and helps each to understand each others strong attributes and abilities. We then begin to trust and depend in others strongpoints

  122. Rick Olson says

    My takeaway from this article is that there is a place for constructive criticism of your pastor. However, people who’s intent it is to hurt their pastor and/or his family are the people who I really believe should be weeded out of the church. I have heard a number of “opinions” … let’s call them for what they are … rumors about our pastor. I immediately dismissed each and every one of them as unsubstantiated hogwash.

    • Kim says

      With all due respect, I am confused by your comment about those who hurt should be “weeded out of church”. Aren’t those the very people who need to be there to learn about Jesus’ love for them, for us? They can learn that He loves us and wants us to love one another whether one is a preacher or another member of the church. People behave that way for many ways, although inexcusable, they need to grow in their faith and they most likely will not in a world not focused on Christ. I feel sad to read the many comments written by preachers, of those they minister to, in the very same manner they are not wanting to be treated. We are all flawed.

  123. Wayne Rhodes, Ph.D. says

    Thom, I remember that in one of your books, you wrote that you thought that most clergy were thick-skinned and you thought you were only thin-skinned clergy out there. I took great comfort in knowing that I was not alone in this matter. The very thing that makes one “successful” in ministry also sets you up for the deepes hurts – you care and if one did not care the comments would not hurt so deep. When I was diagnosed with cancer, an influential member of the congregation recommended that my salary be reduced so that a second Head of Staff could come in and help with the sermons and leadership. Fortunately, a Godly and Principled Chair of Chair of Personnel said, “We do not kick a man when he is down.” Later, I took a medical leave and retired.

      • Mike says

        Concur with Tom. That was terrible. I’m sorry you had to retire. I hope God has been comforting you during your battle with cancer.

        • Wayne Rhodes says

          Dear Thom and Mike,
          I have been cancer free for two years. I miss many great things about congregational ministry, but not the constant pressure. I am teaching on-line at two universities and have found a whole new fulfilling ministry.

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