The Failing Pastor’s “Encouragement” to Struggling Pastors

Earlier this week I wrote a post about not being sure how long I can continue being a pastor. It received quite a bit of response publicly and privately.

Although it is nice to know I am not alone, how discouraging that this is the place so many pastors are in.

Some pastors are living large and don’t have these feelings or frustrations. Others are frustrated for reasons other than those I expressed. I don’t know what to say about those situations.

I would like to talk to those pastors who are doing what they can to faithfully preach the Word, teach and disciple individuals, and otherwise attempt to fulfill the biblical qualifications and expectations of the pastoral role, and yet are met with apathy, rejection, and mockery.

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I think most pastoral frustration, certainly mine, is not a tiredness of work or the church, but just the sheer pointlessness of it. I do my best to faithfully preach God’s Word and it appears the more I endeavor to do this, the more people leave.

My faith does not require the approval of others, but my sincere desires to help people are constantly thwarted. The lives of people who have dropped out of church do not go well. I hurt for them. I don’t know what to do.

This is the time that the happy pastors tell me “There’s nothing you can do. It’s all God.” Which helps nothing, but appears to be top-drawer advice from most.

This advice only adds to my frustration. God is growing everyone else’s church but not mine? Nice to know He’s so helpful. Can I even trust Him? If He’s not on my side, should I even be doing this? Many have told me “no.”

Thanks.

The gates of hell will not prevail against God’s Kingdom. God does not need me to keep the Church alive.

At the same time I have been called to care for one little part of it, to give my life for it, to sacrifice for it, to let my progress in the faith be seen by all, to take heed to my life and my doctrine so that I and my hearers will be saved.

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True Pastoral Pain

There are days where I’m not sure why I even bother being a pastor.

These days are not helped by pithy advice, happy thoughts, and “God is in control” statements.

There is a deep soul hurt. A pain that is so real, so vital; there’s no blood, no broken bones, no evidence of physical trauma. But on the inside I’m bleeding out.

It’s a hurt for people. It’s a hurt that wants to do so much more. A hurt that I have no idea what “so much more” means.

If I knew what to do for people; I’d do it. I just have no clue. I’ve tried everything I know. Been doing this long enough to have exhausted my ideas and resources. And yes, I know, “See, that’s your problem! It’s not about you and your ideas and resources. You gotta let go and let God.” I know. I tried that idea too.

I do what I think I can, what I think I am gifted to do. It’s not working. I feel helpless and yet I long so badly to help.

My personal life is fine. My marriage is good, my kids are turning out quite nicely, I’m doing ok financially. Spiritually I’m doing better than ever, making real strides against sin.

But as a pastor, nothing is working.

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The Cause of All Church Splits and the Solution to Our Disunity: From an Anonymous Moron on the Internet

I like reading Church History. It lets me know my church is just one in a long line of stupid churches.

Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon is correct.

Churches have come and gone, and most have split first. Christians are disturbed by the Church Tradition of splitting churches. So much division, so much hostility, how can this be true of people who follow the Prince of Peace?

There are many reasons why this is the case. One is that the Prince of Peace said He came the first time, not to bring peace but a sword. As Paul said, “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” Division kind of has to happen. There are wolves pretending to be sheep, test the spirits for there are “many false prophets.”

At the core of most of the division is a tension that runs all the way thru Church History. Rather than explain it, I’ll show examples of the tension:

Reason vs. Emotion
Cold Knowledge vs. Warm Love
The Bible vs. The Spirit
The Institution of the Church vs. The Body of Christ Church
Expository Preaching vs. Singing

All these things are the same battle.

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4 Ways to Deal With Ignorant Advice Givers

One of the joys of being in any sort of leadership role, or at least in a position where you have to make decisions, is getting unsolicited advice and criticism. It goes with the territory. Pastors have no monopoly on being criticized and advised.

I have found that typically (certainly not always) the people who advise the most are people who are least involved.

My favorite advisor in my church is a woman who is at church about 18 times a year. We have about 130 regular church services a year. She’s at about 18. She rarely comes to anything else our church does either.

But she will always let me know what other churches are doing and wonders why we don’t do that. She’s given me more ideas about how to raise money, attract people, do music, do kid’s stuff, how I should communicate with people, etc. Her combined advice far outnumbers all other advice I’ve received from anyone else.

And, here’s the deal, because she’s not at church much, most of her advice isn’t even possible. She has no concept of what she’s talking about or the realities of our church. I’ve even told her that “yes, I’m aware what other churches do. The board has talked about this. We’ve decided it doesn’t fit with what we’re doing here.” She’ll just give a confused look, laugh, and dismiss our collective intelligence. Usually she’ll throw in another piece of advice before departing to find something else to advise.

Giving advice is frequently a cover for guilt. They know they aren’t doing what they could to actually help. So they make up for it by advising, which sure feels like help without having to actually do anything. Advisors are always superior. They know more. People who are guilty desire to do something that makes them feel better.

Advisors abound. You will have to deal with them. Here are 4 ways to deal with advisors who have little concept of what they’re talking about.

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The Failing Pastor on “Good Friday”

It’s Good Friday. This has always struck me as a really dumb name for this day. Christ was betrayed and crucified.

Yes, I’m fully aware that His death was a necessary component of the Gospel. Got it.

But this is the rejection of the Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life. He came to His own and His own received Him not. This is heart breaking.

Our Christianity focuses way too much on the positive. I know the Gospel is “Good News.” Got it. But before the Good News comes the Bad News.

In all our discussing of the Gospel, never forget to emphasize just how awful we are. We killed the Lord of Glory.

People do not like God. They do not like anything that God likes. What man esteems is an abomination in the sight of God. We’re on completely different pages.

If you are approaching pastoral ministry thinking, “If I preach the Word, if I emphasize Christ, my church will grow.” You’re in for a surprise.

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Freak Out With Those Who Freak Out?

There are several people in my church who freak out about everything.

One has written me worried emails repeatedly about Donald Trump starting World War III. I see and hear worries about the Covid 19 Pandemic that no one should ever leave their house ever, we’re all going to die! Then there’s the constant cycle of “the next election is the MOST IMPORTANT election in all history!”

There’s always something with these kinds of people. There will always be a crisis, always impending doom. They never seem to catch on to the fact that none of their worries actually ever happen.

The Bible tells me to “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.”

Some of these people are weeping with their worries. Am I to worry with those who worry?

A good biblical example is when the disciples are out on the boat in a storm. They are freaking out, thinking they’re going to die. Unlike Covid 19 Pandemics, they were probably pretty close to death.

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Identifying People Who Want to Take Over the Church

I’m not perfect. I tell my church all the time, “check everything I say with the Word. Even I disagree with some of the stuff I’ve said in the past.”

Being corrected when I mess up is fine with me. If my doctrine is wrong and verses can be pointed out that correct my error, I’m ok with this. I’ve learned a lot from thoughtful people who graciously present verses. Don’t mind that one bit (although it can be embarrassing).

Then there are other people.

There is no grace. There is no desire to help. There are frequently verses thrown around, but rarely are they used in context or even fully quoted. There hasn’t been much thought applied.

These people take it upon themselves to try to completely change my entire doctrinal framework. They aren’t content to fix one point I said; they will not rest until they move me into a completely different theological camp and take the church with them.

One guy told me that if I didn’t make our church Catholic he would be forced to leave. “Well, we’re not going to become a Catholic church.” I seemingly unnecessarily explained. I just didn’t get it. Did he really think that our church would drop everything and follow his whims? Did he honestly expect me to change our church’s entire structure, doctrine, and practice for him?

He did. He honestly did.

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