Category Archives: Pastoral

How Pastors Become A Statistic

Many churches love their pastors and show it by taking good care of him.  They stand by him and what he is trying to do for the Lord because they know what he is facing.  They understand his situation because they think about him, know he is a man and value him as a gift provided to them by God.  But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of fellow pastors do not receive such care.  Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:

Hours and Pay

  • 90% of the pastors work between 55 to 75 hours per week, even though their congregations don’t see it.
  • feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid and with what they do receive, they are usually the biggest giver to their church.

Training and Preparedness

  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered it.

Health and Well-Being

  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a sufficient living.

Marriage and Family

  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

Church Relationships

  • 70% do not have someone they consider as a close friend.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change and become critical of him.

Longevity

  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.

That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it?  Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered.  Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow.  Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?

According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.

I suspect, however, that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20.  They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.

So, I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead.  Let’s face it: we can’t get survey statistics like these unless it has become an unchecked commonplace among congregations to gossip and gripe rather than to breathe grace toward church leaders.  These statistics indicate a pandemic culture of disregard and dishonor aimed at pastors.  That’s to the church’s shame.

I’m praying that Hebrews 13:17–rather than rejected as giving too much authority to leaders–might be embraced by individual members and congregations as one means to growth in Christ and deeper joy as the family of God.  “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Motivational Speakers

Contemporary motivational speakers are those who give comments that will motivate a person to do something.  They don’t motivate a person to do something that person didn’t originally want to do, but something they already felt like doing.  In other words, motivational speech doesn’t have any effect on a person unless they were in agreement in the first place.  Adolph Hitler was a great motivational speaker, as was Mao Tsi Dong, Joseph Stalin and Barak Obama.  They were (and are) masters at finding things that people want and presenting it in a way to motivate and inspire people.  On the whole, contemporary motivational speakers are “martial arts encouragers.”  They use a persons strengths and weaknesses against them, in order to get them to do what they want them to do–usually to buy a product or financially support a cause.  In order to accomplish their unseen agenda, they must be sure to stay away from anything negative, else their victims, like the rabbit who is almost caught in the snare, comes to the sudden realization that they are to be trapped, and hop away breathing a sigh of relief.

 The truth is, there are two kinds of motivational speakers: Those who tell you what you want to hear (like cheer leaders) and those who tell you what you don’t want to hear (like preaching about sin and death); Jesus was the latter.  In fact, all of the prophets and preachers of God in the Bible were of the latter sort.  They had a message of hope that was coupled with a message of doom and destruction.  It is the message of doom and destruction, coupled with the anger of God displayed in His wrath that was the motivational injection that lethargic people needed.  When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), the Pharisees were shocked into doing something.  Noah said, “God’s gonna make it rain and flood the earth killing every living thing.  That’s why I’m building this here boat.”  He was scoffed at until God’s wrath was coupled with the message this preacher of righteousness had (2 Peter 2:5).  They were motivated when they were suddenly caught in the snare of the Devil.  With their negative message of destruction came a message of hope; they were coupled together.

 The negative message first identifies a need in a persons life.  It is a message of judgment and sentence.  It is meant to be a warning of some bad or sinful action.  It is designed to “wake people up” (1 Cor. 15:34; Rom. 13:11) from a dangerous activity, thought or influence.  Then there is hope.  Until then, a message of hope cannot be given because the people will not take it seriously.  There is nothing to motivate them; nothing to move them or provoke them to do something about their evil ways.  A fitting example of this is seen in the preaching of the prophet Zephaniah.  He brought the message that the Lord was determined to pour His indignation upon the nations.  The message further said that God was going to devour all the earth with the fire of His jealousy (Zeph. 3:8).  A negative message to be sure.  Why?  Why such a message from the Lord?  Because God wanted to motivate people to call upon Him (Zeph. 3:9).  First the negative, then the positive.  This is Biblical and true motivational speaking, and it comes with a price.

John the Baptist had a very motivational message that he preached in the wilderness.  It so motivated people that King Herod wanted to hear it for himself.  But when John came into his presence, Herod did not like what he heard.  He did not hear a sickening sweet motivational speech doting on all of Herod’s achievements.  He heard John talk to him about his brother Philip’s wife, to whom he was not wed.  John said, “…It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matt. 14:4).  How did this motivate Herod?  It certainly didn’t make him leave the encounter feeling good about himself.  In fact, Herod wanted to “…put him to death…” (Matt. 14:5).  After some time of imprisonment, this is exactly what happened (Matt. 14:9-10).

So it is no secret that people don’t like to hear negative preaching, and sometimes it cost the preacher, but people need it.  They need it to motivate them to do right.  Without the negative message, coupled with the wrath of God, people are left to their own devices.  And what parent would leave their children to their own with no discipline?  Only those who don’t love them.  Positive reinforcement never did anything for anybody other than to give the parent a way of escape from disciplining their children.  It provides a good way to pass the responsibility on to others.

Preachers who are not regularly preaching against sin, are doing their congregations a huge disservice.  They are taking the easy way out; trying to be their friends and be hugely popular.  It is always easier to let someone else discipline the members of your church, but God will not hold such preachers unaccountable.  Weak-kneed preaching on sin equals popularity, but is comes with a price–skin deep Christians who are looking to have a good time on this earth and enjoy it until Jesus gets back.  That is a foolish surmise.

We have a job to do.  We are to tell people about Jesus and the gospel.  Jesus never told us to have a good time of fellowship until he came back.  That is the equivalent of taking your talent and burying it in the sand.  That will make Jesus mad.  Has any preacher ever told you that if you are not doing something to win souls to Jesus, you are inviting trouble into your life?  That God will be mad about that?  Why not?  That wouldn’t be very motivational by today’s standards, but it sure goes a long way with God.  Would you hate your preacher for telling you that truth?  Would you leave the church?  Or, would you try to do something about it?  After all, you do know the Lord is coming back, don’t you?

Many Christians know this.  But they just want to have a good time and get by until He comes.  After all, is it a sin to enjoy life?  Of course not, but it will only be enjoyable up until you see the scowl on the face of the Saviour when He turns His eyes upon you and asks, “What did you do about what I asked you to do?”

There are two kinds of motivational speakers:  One that tells you what you want to hear, and one that tells you what you need to hear.  Both are motivational.  The main difference between the two is your attitude in the way you take their message.

Selling Out

Today, there are more preachers than ever who are selling out on the Lord Jesus Christ.  In order to accommodate worldly Christians, they begin to compromise on their convictions.  In order to entice the world to come to their churches, they compromise on God.  Instead of giving people what they need, they give them what they want; a dangerous thing to do indeed!  Like the parent who always gives in to their child and gives them everything they want, instead of what they need, they raise up spoiled, rebellious, selfish church members, who “shop” for churches instead of letting God lead them.

When preachers sell out for what is convenient instead of that which cost, they are not acting like men.  They are most probably being run by their wives.  Every Christian is commanded to (1 Cor. 16:13)  “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”  This goes especially for preachers.  Why would God have to exhort Christians to be a man about things?  Because some men take the timid way out.  They are too afraid of the tough road of watching, standing and being strong.  They capitulate into the Devil’s hands.  Preachers wives are not innocent in this either.  If they were standing behind their men, satisfied to be their wives instead of needing self-gratification somewhere else, then preachers would have encouragement at home.  In fact, Preachers wives can be key to the success of the ministry of pastors.

I cannot think of one pastor who has been successful in the ministry who did not have his wife satisfied to be his supporter.  Notice I didn’t say that she “claims” to support her husband.  I mean she is a keeper at home first.  A lady who takes care of the burden of the home life in a large way so he is free to give his time to the ministry.  I do not mean an anchor who actually holds him back.  This takes sacrifice on her part so most pastor’s wives take this on as their purpose in life and are satisfied completely in it.  No man will be able to “be strong” “like men” should be when he has to be mama at the same time, but their are few exceptions to this rule.

When things get out of whack, and God has to remind us to be strong like men should be, He says it for a reason.  Not only is there a “selling out” on the home front, but their is a selling out on manhood as well.  This is mainly accomplished by worldly influence.  This is usually seen in trying to be “all things to all men” while at the same time, NOT trying to get people saved.

The devil would like to replace soul winning with anything appealing, (or even logical), except soul winning.  Charts and status and figures, all meant to be helpful, are in fact hurtful because they lead a preacher away from soul winning.  I have sat in on evangelism meetings that did not mention one peep about soul winning at all.  Oh, there was talk about development and planning in a logical and methodical way, but winning a soul was no where in sight.  Weak, worldly, feminine Preachers allow planning and organizing to replace soul winning.  As I said before, it is not bad to plan and organize, but to stop there, and not win souls, is the great demise.

It is sad that God has to remind men to “get a backbone.”  If preachers did, then they would be certainly less miserable in the ministry.  In this area they are actually putting themselves, their families and their churches in bondage.  So God has to remind us to not only get a backbone, but to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”  (Gal. 5:1).

I guess God knows our nature is to return to the worldly way of doing things.  Of course, the worldly way is a way of bondage that is hard to break free of once we are weighted down with it’s burden.  He knows that the temptation to return to doing things like everyone else would be so strong that He had to tell us to “Stand Fast!”  Is there anyone reading this article who needs to know what that means?  Is the inference not clear?  Does anyone who has been truly saved not know the liberty that comes with Christ?  Why then do Christians, (and even preachers), feel that the ministry is a burden?  Why do they feel in bondage?  It is because they have moved away from Christ.  They have entangled themselves with the worldly way of doing things.  For preachers, this may mean trying to do things “like all of the other churches do” so they can build a congregation of hapless drones.  They want to please all of the Christian prima donna’s (def: a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team.).   They become a compromiser in the name of “being called”, but they are no more called than Jack-the-Ripper.  Instead of carrying the burden the Lord has placed on them, they would rather have the burden of worldly entanglement.  Preachers who are thus, are not called at all.  In fact they are not even preachers.  All Biblical preachers suffered persecution and loss.  Some were turned on even by their own families.  Some died stranded and alone.  Others were tortured and killed.  They certainly didn’t achieve such wonderful fates by tickling the public’s fancy.

Real preachers strive.  They strive for the faith of the gospel.  They strive for unity of the mind and spirit.  Philippians 1:27 tells us to “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  God must have known that the ministry would not be a “bed of roses.”  He must have known that it would take some fighting; a little bit of blood, sweat and tears.  He must have known that the Devil would try to get preachers to “cash it in” for an easier, more elaborate and fulfilling “ministry” than the one He assigned them to.  Preachers sell out easily because the going gets tough.  They are constantly surrounded by negative news; people always tell the preachers the bad things that are happening in their life.  Preachers are constantly being criticized and talked about behind their backs.  In so doing, the “brethren” are actually tearing down everything that they worked for while at the same time “talking it up” to their faces.  It is not a job for the weak man; and there are many of them who “think” they are called because all they see is the wonderful aspects of the job without ever delving into the inner workings.  But, when they do, they throw up their hands and surrender.

They surrender first on doctrine.  This is because doctrine divides, and it needs to be divided correctly (2 Tim. 2:15).  Compromising of doctrine is the first step to a long and lonely downhill fall away from God.  Most preachers give up on this first because it takes work; it takes a lot of time in the study to make sure you know what is correct and what is not.  So, the preacher with a wet noodle for a backbone will depend on what someone else wrote in a book and teach it before they will put in the effort to study for themselves.  It would be wonderful if they would take a pop quiz every once in awhile.  I do so by asking if the congregation has any questions.  That is when I am on the “hot seat”, and I have learned much about doctrine by my study for the answers to those questions.

After doctrine goes out the door, then everything else follows suit: (dress, music, interests, books, denominations, salvation, baptism, communion, etc.)  they become weak, sickly “sharers” of the word; and I am not sure you can even call it that.  It is ungodly (2 Tim. 2:16)!  It is manly!  It eats up the body of Christ all in the name of “being fair to everyone.”  It is in error and it overthrows the faith of some (2 Tim. 2:18), starting with their own families especially.

When all is said and done, preachers, like everyone else, are commanded to, “…stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15).  There is a tradition (Def: The handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another.) to uphold.  If preachers would just hold fast to that which they have been taught instead of constantly trying to improve on the plan, then the Christian world of today wouldn’t have near the problems that it does.  It is good to improve on one’s understanding of self, but the plan was given by God Himself and needs no improvement.  In fact, it is a perfect plan:  go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  Win souls.  Show people how to be saved.  Train up the Saints so they can win souls as well.  This is God’s plan and there is no improvement upon it.  What it lacks is preachers with a backbone who are truly called to stand up and stand fast.  It needs preachers who won’t SELL OUT for that which is convenient.