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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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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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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The Feeling of Failure because no one Listens

I look at God’s word and think, “Man, this is great! These are the words of life.”

When I preach God’s word, I fully expect everyone else to see how great His word is too. But usually people just ignore it, shuffle out the door, and go right back to the idiocy they were dong before.

I sit back and observe the lives around me, I see the beauty of God’s word, I see that the wrecked lives are not hearing God’s word. How can they not want more of this beautiful, life-giving word?

My only conclusion is: it must be me. I must be screwing it up. I must preach really badly. Maybe my life, my testimony, maybe I don’t demonstrate it enough.

I reflect on how I act and what I’ve done in front of these people who continually don’t hear God’s word, I can think of things I did in front of them that weren’t right. I can see my blame. And since I know God’s word is so perfect and beautiful, it can’t be His fault. It’s got to be me.

When people reject God’s word, it must be my fault. I’m to blame. It’s all me.

I feel this way quite often. There is some truth. I can’t deny I have a part in all this.

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4 Kinds of Questions Pastors Get Asked

As a pastor I am accustomed to being questioned. Every week I have people emailing and asking questions in person. I am specifically talking about questions related to the Bible and Christianity, not stuff like, “Did you see the game? or “Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

People often say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” People who say this have obviously never been a pastor. There are stupid questions; I’ve been asked most of them. But in the midst of the gloom of inane questions are the shining lights of brilliant questions. These are rare and cherished.

I can throw all these questions into the following categories. Most of these categories consist entirely of stupid questions, with one shining exception, which you will readily recognize when you see it.

1. Testing Questions
Many questions I’m asked are tests. The questioner has no interest at all in my answer. They want to corner me, challenge me, condemn me, mock me, or in some other way make me look ridiculous. These questions used to bother me quite a bit. Now I just answer them as succinctly as possible. “How many angels can stand on a pin head?” My answer: “7.” because seriously how are they going to verify this? These are insincere questions asked by people who want to lecture. These questions are the stupidest questions of all

2. Doubtful Questions
I don’t mind if people ask me about their doubts about the Bible, faith, or Christianity. I’m cool with people questioning such things. Unfortunately, what I’ve realized is that people who have doubts about the veracity of Christianity are usually people who just don’t want to commit to it. So, after I’ve answered their question about their doubt as reasonably as I can, they’ll nod their head and walk away. Six months later they’ll ask the same question. I’ll give the same answer. They nod and go away. Six months later they ask the same question, I give the same answer, they nod the same and walkaway. Six months later . . . on and on and on it goes. These people have doubts and they aren’t interested in the answers because they are enjoying their sin too much. This is stupid.

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