Raising Pastors’ Kids

My kids are not better than yours cuz they are pastor’s kids. They are better than yours cuz they are better than yours.
@FailingPastors

 

 

Pastors’ kids have a bad reputation. This could be because pastors have bad kids.

It could also be that people have very high expectations for pastors’ kids. Every little misstep of pastors’ kids gets noticed and remembered and gossiped about.

I don’t know where the stereotype comes from in all honesty. I’ve known lots of pastors’ kids and I honestly don’t know any that I’d describe as being “bad.” I mean, kids are kids. Kids are by nature not good all the time. My kids have done bad things, some of which were observed by others. But anyone who knows my kids would say they are good kids.

I am not a person who likes bad kids, so I’d know it if my kids were bad.

My kids are, quite frankly, good kids. They get good grades, they don’t get in trouble at school, they have jobs, they are respectful to authority, and various other measures of kid goodness. My kids are beginning to move out of my house, one already has. My kids are not little anymore; they are young adults. And they are good kids.

Let me tell you one massive reason why they are good kids: because I’m a good father.

Yup, I went ahead and said it.

My kids were born like anyone else’s kids. They had their fair share of strengths and weaknesses. Two of them were hyper and nuts. One of them was quieter and more subtle with her nuts. But they were all nuts. It took a massive amount of time, patience, energy, and cardiovascular exercise to discipline my kids. I was all-in on my fathering. I was determined to win every battle of wills. No matter how long it took, I wore them out until they learned I was the boss.

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Who to Blame If Your Church Sucks

Whenever I’m about to bemoan the stupidity of people in my church, I remember that their stupidity is why I got hired.
@FailingPastor

 

I mean, seriously, if I had a great church I wouldn’t be the pastor.

In all honesty, pastors who whine about their churches are quite funny. Many of my jokes about people in my church are made up. Many of the true ones are about people who have left. And, yeah, humans are funny, so I poke on some remaining people. But at the core of it, we’re all in this together.

Speaking of making fun of people who left my church. There was a guy who had a problem with my leadership in the church. He told me my leadership style was “my way or the highway.” He then went on to compare me to his jerk of a dad. He maintained that I enforced too much of a difference between clergy and laymen. I found that funny because my approach to church is so far from a clergy laity split it’s ridiculous.

The only difference between clergy and “laymen” is that the clergy are appointed to do some stuff in church. There should be a standard of conduct and faith maintained, but this same standard should be every Christian’s goal. Clergy are not above the rest. We all have feet of clay. All have sinned and all need Christ.

I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I know this about me. I know my weak spots and have a wife to point out the weak spots I’ve missed.

Pastors will attract people who are similar to them. They just do. If the pastor is intellectual and academic; the church will soon be made up of academics. If he’s hip and cool; then hip and cool people will go to him. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general this is how it works. I dare say it even goes down to body weight! Fat pastors have fatter churches than skinny ones!

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Preach Your Thoughts, Not Other People’s Cliches

Along with “yes,” “no,” and “maybe,” God also answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

I have no idea if God answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.” I kind of hope He does! But I get nervous about putting words in His mouth. I’m no “Jesus Calling” author over here.

The basic point of this tweet was to challenge our flippant answers about biblical subjects.

Prayer is a subject discussed with much goofiness. When I was a kid I remember hearing the “yes, no, and maybe” deal about God answering my prayers. What kind of teaching is that? That’s how anyone answers a request. That’s not really teaching anything; that’s just pointing out reality. That’s what my mom will do if I ask her if I can have a cookie.

Plus, how does that answer the statement of Jesus Christ that if you ask anything in His name He will do it? “No” and “maybe” don’t seem part of that verse. Perhaps there are larger issues at work.

“Does prayer work?” has been a long standing question. There’s only one reason this is even a question: because prayer doesn’t work. If prayer worked then no one would ask this question. Therefore, simply by the existence of the question we can know that prayer does not work.

Now, answering why it’s not working has a manifold answer that would require a 65 point sermon, which is not the aim here. I’ll let you preach that one!

My point is that pastors are up against much bad teaching. In order to teach people what the Bible says, you first un-teach what Christians have heard from other Christians.

Don’t know if you know this or not, but what most Christians believe is based on other people’s opinions, not the Bible. I’ll let you pause and recover mentally and emotionally from the shock of that statement.

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The Frustrating Work of Helping Sinners Not Sin

THEM: I’m not growing any fruit, what should I do?

ME: Pray. Stop sinning, Pursue holiness.

THEM: What else ya got?
@FailingPastor

 

 

This was a real conversation I had with a guy. Through our entire relationship he was adamant that good works were not necessary, and that sin wasn’t that bad because Jesus had forgiven him. Yet I’ve never met anyone so burdened with guilt. He was constantly beating himself up and depressed.

“How come I don’t have any spiritual fruit? Why doesn’t sin just stop?” he asked.

“Because you don’t think sin is that bad and you don’t think good works are that good.”

“Yeah, my good works are just filthy rags and all my sin has been dealt with in Christ. But I just don’t understand why I’m not growing.”

“You should do good things. Paul says in Titus to do good works so you are not unfruitful.”

“Yeah, well, there you go slipping into legalism again.”

We got nowhere. He later left the church.

People are suckers for get rich quick schemes. We all want the shortcut to success. This is just as true spiritually as it is monetarily.

I think most Christians admire Jesus Christ and would be cool with being more like Him. I really think most Christians have a desire to be better people. In fact, most people desire that.

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The Pain of Pastoral Phone Calls

“Please go to voicemail. Please go to voicemail.”

–me, every time I have to call someone
@FailingPastor

 

 

I hate talking on the phone. Cellphones are the worst. If you begin speaking while the other person is speaking it gets cut off. Then both pause to let the other go. Then both speak at the same time. Then they go under a bridge or out of coverage and they are gone, only to call back later where you can hear every third word. The only thing worse is when the connection is clear and you can hear every word.

I hate talking on the phone.

The only people who still talk on the phone, are people who like talking on the phone. Everyone else texts. There is nothing worse than talking on the phone with someone who likes talking on the phone.

There are several lovers of talking on the phone who call me. If I’m not home, they will leave a message, asking me to call them back. I hate calling people back.

I also know, every month or so, there are certain people who like talking on the phone who would like me to call them. So I do. And I pray and I pray, “Lord please, I’m begging you, let this go to voicemail.”

If I can just leave a message, then these folks will know that I tried. I gave them a call and they didn’t answer. It’s not my fault! I wanted to talk on the phone, but no! You did not! Ha, I am now off the hook.

People who like talking on the phone generally like talking about their problems. Pretty much the only time certain people call me is if they have a new problem, which is strikingly similar to their old problems. Usually it has to do with arguments and fights with other people. Because for some reason, and I think we need more research on this, people who like to talk on the phone are typically fighting with everyone.

Talking on the phone to someone who likes talking on the phone about all their drama is life-suckingly horrendous.

There are many phone calls that end with me hanging up and sitting back and praying, “Dear Lord, thank you that is over. Please fill me with enough energy to get out of this chair and go on.”

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I Preach the Word and People Don’t Come

PASTORAL ADVICE: If you preach The Word, people will come.

ME: When The Word came, people crucified Him.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I had a guy tell me “Preach the Word and people will come.” I preached on a passage of Scripture that contradicted one of his favorite doctrines and he left the church. I love the irony.

If you preach the Word, one thing you will never preach is “If you preach the word people will come,” because the Word never says that.

What the Word says is stuff like: God’s wisdom is foolishness with man. Men hate the light and love the darkness. They will not endure sound doctrine but will heap to themselves teachers who will scratch their ears. And, of course, the chief example is when the Word Himself became flesh and dwelt among us–He came unto His own and His own received Him not.

Are we aware of what that means? It means people who think they wanted the Messiah didn’t really want Him once He showed up.

John describes Jesus as being the Word of God made flesh. There is much depth to that statement and I don’t pretend to be plumbing its depths here, but at least it means Jesus Christ is as much a revelation of God’s righteousness as the Scripture is, if not more. If people didn’t like Christ, what makes us think they will like His Word?

Try it sometime. You know the passages people in your church have agreed to ignore. You know the ones that will get you in trouble.

Maybe it’s Paul telling women to be silent in church, or wives to submit to husbands. Maybe it’s stuff about repentance and the necessity of good works in faith in James 2. Maybe it’s the Sermon on the Mount or the book of Revelation. I don’t know what it is for your church, but you do (if you don’t know your church’s weirdness, ask people outside your church that are familiar with people in your church! They know!).

What you’ll find is that people, in general, are not at all interested in what the Bible says. That’s why we defend our accepted niche of church tradition. As long as I can quote old, dead guys it doesn’t matter what the Bibles says. And they are OUR old, dead guys! They can’t be wrong!

Preach the Word, in season and out. Do it all the time and watch the people leave. Be prepared to take a pay cut, maybe even be prepared to eventually shut the doors of your church.

It’s not sad to shut for good the doors of a church that promotes terrible doctrine, this might actually be the best thing you’ve ever done for the Body of Christ!

There are way too many churches today and way too many pastors and way too many people pretending at Christianity. Start preaching the Word and weed out the pretenders. Stake your career on it. Go a Sunday without getting paid because there’s no money. See the embarrassment on the treasurer’s face when he tells you not to cash your paycheck. I’ve seen it.

If you preach the Word, I guarantee you your church will shrink. Guaranteed to happen every single time it’s tried. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. Do you have the faith and the guts to do it?

 

 

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness
–1 Corinthians 1:23

When the Pastor’s Family Avoids the Pastor’s Church

When you’re a pastor and your family comes to visit,
but once again makes excuses why they can’t stay for church.

Or is that just me?
@FailingPastor

 

 

“I think we’ll leave before church,” my mom said. “We want to get home before midnight.”

Here’s the thing: my parents live about five hours away and my church ends at 11am. Unless they stop for food for eight hours, there is no possible way they would get home after midnight.

My parents have been to my church one time together, and that was within the first months of me preaching here. Since then one of them has been to a Sunday morning service three times.

This would make sense if my parents were atheists or Mormons or something, but no. My parents are not only long-time Christian folk, we are all in the same denominational affiliation. But they won’t come to my church.

But that’s not all. My wife’s parents have been to my church twice. And, also, just so we’re clear on timeframe, I’ve been a pastor for about 20 years now. In twenty years they’ve been to two church services.

This used to really bother me. It still kind of hurts. At the same time, now it’s more a game for my wife and I to make bets about when they will leave and what the excuse will be this time. Oh, and by the way, all of our parents are currently retired. It’s not like they have anything they need to get back home for.

Nope, they just don’t want to come to my church.

I’m not entirely sure why this is the case. It could just be me. It could be the content of my messages or my delivery or my humor. It might just be the annoyance of listening to the punk kid preach at ya. I get it. I see why that would be hard. But here’s the other thing: my brother in-law is a pastor and my in-laws go to his church multiple times a year. They know people on a first name basis in his church, while knowing no one from our church. And he’s only been at his church for three years. So it has to be more than just a kid preaching.

I’m always told the verse “the prophet is without honor in his home town.” That would make sense except for my brother-in-law shoots that theory to pieces. It depends who the prophet is I guess.

Perhaps my church is the culprit. We’re not a typical church. We don’t have fancy programs and buildings and decor. We don’t have a praise team and largely avoid contemporary music. I know there are worship preferences at play. But I’m your son!

Does it really pain them so much that they can’t endure my church for one hour a year? Apparently. I had no idea how painful my ministry could be to relatives.

I threw this tweet out there to see if other pastors had this experience. Sure enough, quite a few did. One guy said his parents couldn’t make it to his church because his dad had to get home in time to put the garbage out. He says his parents live four hours away.

I’m not the only one who puts up with this. My dad, who used to be a pastor, used to complain that his parents and in-laws never listened to his preaching. Funny how he is annoyed with his family on that but that’s still not enough to get him into my church.

Ministry is hard enough, but to get rejection from your family over it is completely unhelpful. You don’t hear about this sort of problem addressed at fancy pastor conferences or in pastoral ministry books. But this is a deal.

I’m a grown man. I don’t need my mommy’s approval. But it would be nice to know there’s some support out there somewhere. Many Sundays I have gotten hurt by people in my church and it would be nice to call a parent and unload a bit, but I can’t. It’s a layer of comfort and support that does not exist. I don’t know how much difference it would make, how could I? I have never had it. Having that underlying subconscious thought in your head that “even my family thinks I suck at this” sure doesn’t help though.

Anyway, I’m just stating a fact of pastoral ministry I’ve never heard dealt with before. I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m also not sure what would be worse: having my family stay away from my church or having them in it!

 

 

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
–Luke 14:26-27