"What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?"

This blog has been moved to www.fallenpastor.com.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I Don't Miss About Pastoring: Pastoral Pettiness

I've shared three things I really miss about pastoring. That means I can be petty now and share things I don't miss.

Speaking of being petty, I don't miss pastoral pettiness.

Most church members are oblivious to pastoral pettiness. It's something pastors only toss around amongst themselves. It's prideful, disgusting, but we do it anyway. And it can lead to a fall.

Don't get me wrong, I engaged in plenty of it myself. Lots of it. And I hated it when I did it and others did it. It takes oh so many forms.

One of the biggest forms is the inflation of numbers. When one pastor asks another pastor how many members they have at their church, get ready - because lighting may strike. The conversation goes something like this:

"Brother Bob, how many do you have in worship at Pleasant View?" (every community has a Pleasant View, by the way)

"Well, Brother Tim, we run about 200. How many do you have at Oak Grove?" (every community also has an Oak Grove)

"Well, Brother Bob, we run about 150."

Yeah. If you heard that conversation, you could guess that Brother Bob was running about 160 and Brother Tim was running about 100.  It's a good rule of thumb that you can subtract anywhere from 20-40% of whatever number the pastor is pitching you. 

I'm not saying the pastor is attempting dishonesty. I believe he wants his church that big. And his church may have run that number last Easter or high attendance Sunday. He may actually look out and see that many people in his church. But his pride (my pride at one time) makes us inflate those numbers.

To be fair, not all pastors do it. But when we do . . . it's petty.

Another petty thing we do is fall back on our education as some sort of badge of pride. I was horribly guilty of this. I was so proud of my seminary education.

On the one hand, you should be proud of your education. But it's not everything. If anything, it should humble you. A lot of pastors use it to end arguments or shut people up. For instance (and this is just and example, not a theological point, so don't make any comments):

Church member A says, "Bro. Anderson, in your sermon last Sunday, I know you were going on about the Olivet Discourse. I liked what you preached. I'm just curious, though, and I really don't know, but Jesus said 'this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.' But you acted like those things still have yet to happen. I'm not disagreeing, I'm just confused."

Bro. Anderson, "Well, I understand your confusion. Did you listen to the sermon? Go listen again. Jesus was talking about the generation who saw those things."

Church member A, "Well, I got that, but when 'this generation' is used elsewhere, he means the generation he's talking to . . ."

Bro. Anderson, "Well, I don't know who you've been talking to or what you've been reading, but I have a seminary degree . . ."

And so on. Yeah, I've done that. Ashamed of it. Because it's petty.

There's another level of pettiness that exists. And this one is two-fold. Pastors who start at small churches then get a little bit of the big head around other pastors who still serve at small churches. They act like they're a "little better" than other pastors because they've gone "big time." Yeah, it happens.

Guess what though? It goes both ways. Those of us who were bi-vocational, working the rural scene got a little angry (dare we say, jealous? heavens no!) about those guys and scorned them behind their backs when we should have been praying for them. Yeah, that happens too. We're sitting there wondering, "Why didn't God promote me?" (Maybe it was our attitudes . . .)

I'm trying to say a few of things but I'm not sure it's coming out too clear. First, pastors are people. We have petty issues, petty jealousy of each other, petty problems, and think petty thoughts. We sin petty sins. And it's sinful. Ridiculous. We ought to be above it, but sometimes, we're just not.

Secondly, we're weak. Just like the rest of the world. And without guarding ourselves and coming together as men of God, we're liable to fall.

Thirdly, there aren't many people pastors can confide in. We can't talk to church members because they don't understand. We usually don't talk to counselors. We find it hard sometimes to talk to spouses. And as you can tell, we rarely talk to one another.

So usually, the job of pastor is very lonely. Please pray for your pastor. Say something nice to him.

It might make his day, and it might make a difference.

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