Many young/immature Christians and unbelievers are under the impression that mature believers got their suddenly, that there’s a short cut to maturity and all problems disappear. Based on this, they assume pastors have the magic button to zap people into spiritual maturity.
There is no magic button. There is no zap.
Spiritual maturity comes by work, struggle, suffering, and various temptations, along with the self-control, patience, humility, and love given to the believer by the Holy Spirit gained over time typically through the work, struggle, suffering, and temptations.
Much disillusionment with pastors is because “I went to the pastor and he didn’t fix anything” experience. The assumption is that a few conversations with the pastor oughta do the trick.
Pastors don’t always help this either. We’ve all heard pastors brag about all the people they fixed. “I just take em out for a cup of coffee and by the end they’re great!” I actually had an older pastor tell me this constantly.
I also remember counseling several of the people he bragged about fixing. They were far from fixed, but in his head, he fixed em all (they weren’t fixed after I counseled them either).
Churches don’t help this either! Various churches have invented experiences to convince people they are growing. They provide a zap of spiritual feeling. It’s exciting and fun. Seems to work for a month or so. But as with most supposed spiritual zaps, the emotion dies off along with the apparent growth.
People coming out of these churches tend to be twice the children of hell. They tried Christianity; it didn’t work, and now they are done with it all.
One of the most painful aspects of being a pastor is seeing hurting people resist the hard work necessary to attain spiritual growth. No one wants to hear about self-control and discipline. They just want the zap.
This human tendency is also why so many are trapped by get rich quick schemes. Why people think weight loss happens with magic pills. Why people think excellence at anything comes by good intentions rather than work.
People are lazy, but we want success. Spiritual growth is a thing people think they want, but the ones who truly want it, just like the ones who want to grow wealth, or lose weight, or excel at any interest, will put the work in.
The work is part of the suffering. Tribulation works patience, experience, and hope. You won’t get there without some tribulating.
Hate to break it to ya, but there’s no magic button and no zappy thing. Buckle down and do the work. Bring your body under subjection. Run to win.
And, after hearing this, many conclude I’m legalistic and undermining the power of the Spirit, or throwing out grace for a yoke of bondage, or some other spiritual sounding thing.
You don’t have to do the work, you can pretend and play happy mind games. Get back to me in 10 years, let me know how it went.
This is the reality, yet no one wants to hear it. So the pastor watches people reject this truth over and over and run their lives into the ground. It’s impossible to not be worn down by this. Meanwhile, all the yahoo pastors promising their latest Get Spiritual Quick zappy, magic trick have crowded churches.
Oh well, I’d rather go out staying faithful to God’s Word than playing such games. It still kills to watch so many lives ruined by short cutting the process to the absolute ruination of faith.
But I will affirm constantly that believers ought to do good works if they want to grow (Titus 3:8). It’s a consistent theme in the New Testament.
“And let our’s also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.”
3 thoughts on “Pastors Can’t Magically Fix People”
Well, Dallas Willard would agree with you. And plenty of people accused him of promoting “works righteousness” too. But it was really just being realistic about how things do not work by magic.
Sooooo true sir. I have a lot of respect & admiration for you. You lay out the truth…bare bones, no fluff. It us often hard to hear it like this, but it is what we all need…straight, no frills, truth.