The One Truth About Pastors You Need to Hear

The following guest post was submitted by Matthew Malin, a young man who blogs over at Confessions: Bringing to light that which is hidden. As a matter of disclosure, I did not ask Matthew to write this, nor did I edit what he wrote. So… All I can say is that somebody’s evidently been around the block and knows what he’s talking about.


 

I’ve been a pastor’s child for 17 of the 23 years I’ve been on this earth. I’m not writing this article to tell you that it’s been completely easy. I’m also not here to inform you that it was hell on earth. It was neither easy nor hell but rather a comfortable middle, I suppose.

Out of the many years spent watching my mother and father traverse the rocky waters of ministry has come a longing for “outsiders” to know what it’s like. Sometimes, if I’m being honest, I wish that the congregation would have had to live in our shoes if but for a day. Maybe then they would realize that we were only humans too.

My father has never been Superman. Albeit he is my hero but he was not created to be all things to all people at any time. My mother, as much as I respect and adore her for her strength, was never fashioned by God to fill every hole in the church as a pastor’s wife. They were created as human beings, like the rest of us, and called to be preachers and teachers of the Gospel.

This is the message that I hope to lovingly convey to you today: Your pastor and his family are not gods. They are not the only thread keeping your church from falling apart. They are not the saviors of your spiritual life. They are, however, human beings with emotions, desires, hurts, longings, and passions just like you. And as much as you need other people in the faith to come alongside you to encourage you, they need it as well, if not more.
Our Story:

Growing up I thought ministry was cool. My dad was the youth pastor of our church which meant I got to tag along on most youth events, much to the chagrin of the “cool” kids. I mean, no one wants an obnoxious eight-year-old around, right? Despite the perceived negativity of those I wished to associate with, I looked forward to every time I could see my dad at work.

My father was instrumental in passing on a passion for the ministry to me. Seeing his drive, his passion, and his love for the church of Christ was contagious. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to do what he did.

Then it got hard.

You see, as I grew I became privy to some of the “behind the scenes” information concerning the inner workings of church life. To summarize it all, I didn’t like what I heard and I borderline hated what I saw.

The more involved I became with ministry the more hurt I subjected myself to. There were those who openly condemned my father for his choices. There were those who did so secretively. Many professed love for our family but that “love” quickly died when something did not go their way. Suffice it to say, my family has gone through hell in the ministry.

I want to be very clear, though. My family and I do not hate ministry. It is only by God’s gracious hand that my father continues to shepherd a local body, that I am pursuing a pastoral role, and that my sisters all have a desire to be missionaries and pastor’s wives. After all that we have seen and had happen to us, this is nothing short of a miracle.

However, that never stopped us, even to this day, from wondering why. Why were we always expected to fill every hole in the church’s ministry? Why were we expected to be perfect? Why did so many say that they loved us only to hurt us in the end? Why were so many people unfaithful to God and the church body? Why would someone do such a thing to another soul? Why did no one ever stop to think about our spiritual needs?
Why does this matter?

I fully believe that our Christian culture has created an aura, a stigma if you will, that the Pastor is some sort of “god” capable of accomplishing any and every role set before him. The Pastor is to be preacher, teacher, shepherd, counselor, friend, janitor, organizer, committee leader, father, husband, coach etc…etc…He’s supposed to be the one that fixes all of the complaints brought to him. He’s supposed to right every wrong. He’s to never slip up in the flesh lest someone think he’s less than perfect. He’s not supposed to need discipleship, guidance, and counseling. He’s the pastor, he should know it all by now, right?

Being a pastor and being a part of a pastor’s family can be incredibly lonely because of this thinking. It is as if we, sinful people such as you, are supposed to live and exceed a higher expectation of holiness because of a job title. Truth be told, we need the Gospel just as much as you do.

Your pastor, his wife, and their children need to be encouraged. They have to be. The devil is attacking them and tempting them to despair. There is a target on their back. Why is it that you hear of so many pastors falling out of ministry because of sin, burn out, or apathy? It is simply because the devil is trying his hardest to kill them.

The devil is trying to kill your pastor and his family.

He wants them to die.

He’s doing whatever it takes.

Let’s be honest, sometimes he uses you to accomplish that. I hope that I do not speak without compassion but I must say that the people of God are most commonly the most effective tools of the devil. I know this because I have seen it and I am far too often such a tool as well.

What, then, is our purpose?

The primary goal of every believer, not just a pastor, is to preach the Gospel and make disciples. Yet somehow we’ve taught ourselves to believe that this is the pastor’s role and only he can do it. In all reality, every believer has been called to this life. Every Christian should be actively preaching and reproducing. The “pastor” is simply a man called to lead a specific body of Christ into doing this.

He is charged with teaching, encouragement, rebuke, and discipleship. Yet so many pastors don’t have time for any of those things because the color of the carpet needs to be decided upon. Minor example but does my point come across? We are far too concerned with that which doesn’t matter. So much so that we lose sight of that which does.

Can I encourage you to forget the minuscule objectives for your church that you may have? The only objective we should be pursuing is the spread of the Gospel to all people. Our primary goal should not be having 150 committees for every ministry in the church. Our goal should not be to get our way with our preferred style of music, Bible translation, or style of chair in the auditorium.

Our goal is the Gospel of Christ penetrating hearts to all nations and to all peoples.

Unbelievers need the Gospel. You need the Gospel. Your pastor and his family need the Gospel.

Can I encourage you, one Christian to another, to take care of your pastor and his family? Whether it be through encouraging word or by keeping a complaint to yourself, you’re showing them love. Maybe it’s by way of a card? If your pastor has small children then offer to babysit one night so that he and his wife can go on a date. Whatever it may be, reach out to them.

They need Jesus just as much as anyone else.
Final Thoughts:

Despite your pastor being a sinful man, if he is genuinely pursuing Christ for himself, his family, and you, then nothing else really matters. There are many men and women in the ministry only pursuing personal gain. If you have a pastor who faithfully preaches the Gospel and isn’t afraid to stand on truth, I can guarantee you that the Devil wants to destroy him. Be in prayer for your pastor but don’t stop there. Reach out, make an effort, and try to stop complaining so much. 😉

I love the ministry. I love the church. I hate the sin. I hate it in your life and I hate it in mine. I wish for us to be in heaven so that we could be free from its impact but we know that God is faithful. He will show himself so in your life and in those around you so long as you remain obedient and humble. Seek the Lord with all of your heart and live a life patterned by the transformational love of Christ. You’ll be amazed by the difference He can make.

God bless.

 

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “The One Truth About Pastors You Need to Hear

  1. As a preachers kid and missionaries kid, this post is right on target. A pastor cannot teach, guide, or shepherd a congregation when the congregation redefines the Word of God and the pastors role. The laity needs to accept their role and love the pastor and his family in away that allows him to be what God has called him to do.

    • I’m wondering if the roll of the pastor should be redefined in the church. Should the church be structured as it is currently? Should the pastor be making his living and his job description solely from the church? The apostle Paul didn’t but he did have his reasons not to. Why are the church members being nitpicky? Why are they not maturing? There are many questions about the church of our day.

      • You are so right. Most of my life I was a part of the current structure of the church. Several years ago, I started at an independent church that was started by the current pastor. It has grown from a handful of people to a congregation of about 200. While I love the pastor and believe he is teaching the Word, the church still has problems due to this structure in that it is controlled by one man, the pastor. I like it better this way more than controlled by the handful of families who railroaded my Dad out because someone with money started trying to take control of things. If we look at the early church I think we will see they were not interested in mega churches but only in spreading the Gospel. Perhaps that is how we have gotten off course and more interested in satisfying the laity. Too many programs brings in the folks for sure, but it also leaves problems in the area of uncontrolled teaching and allows room for dispute which result in bitterness and then who knows from there. Thanks for your response.

  2. Hi Mathew,
    It’s not difficult to experience mental illness in our day. I have my own story of mental illness in an anxiety and depression episode that gradually worsened over a period of several years. The issue with children is that they cannot choose to leave the circumstances of their depression unless their parents do so for them. For example, interacting and living with an abusive church dynamic. It seems that abuse is more common in today’s church than anything else. One reason could be false beliefs and teachings in the church which are not able to mature the saints. Leaders are tentative in their preaching and teaching because they do not want to offend church attendance. We have a dammed if you do preach truth and a dammed if you don’t preach truth dynamic in church preaching and teaching today.
    This will get straightened out by God but how this will be done might end up being a real shakeup of the church.

    • I agree wholeheartedly with you. The majority of churches today have seemingly lost their way in favor of pursuing acceptance and relevance. Due to this, any effort in pushing others to Jesus, no matter how difficult, is met with abuse and resistance. The church was never meant to be culturally relevant. We are, however, called and commanded to be like Christ. Having too many programs and the like are simply surface issues masking the real problem: We’ve forgotten the true depths of our sinfulness and the measure that Christ went to redeem us from it. Thanks for your response!

  3. Reblogged this on a simple man of God and commented:

    As one who serves in ministry, as ordained pastor and lay leader, I will confirm what is written here by Matthew.
    Please read this post and the comments that have already been added by others. Perhaps this will help you in your own walk, whether pastor or pew-filler!
    Daniel

  4. Matthew as a PK myself I absolutely get it. I am not sure how God kept hold of me after I watched what my parents went through in one church. Fast forward over 40 years and I find myself as an elder and church secretary in a church where a new pastor has managed to divide the church in less than eight months, and appears to be hell bent on completely destroying it and the faith of those who welcomed him into the team, including two other pastors. It seems that the wind blows both ways and I had never realised this before. My faith in God remains strong but I am fast losing faith in the church and the denomination.

  5. Kristina Coleman

    Beautiful post!!!

  6. As a woman about to marry a man in full-time ministry, I cannot express how grateful I am to you to have these words laid out. So many times I have thought these things but never been able to relay them in such a compassionate yet honest way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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