November 26, 2022
How Our Behavior Can Negatively Affect Our Pastors
I want to lay out the steps you should take if you want to crush your pastor and hasten his resignation. With the Internet being the way it is, I need to jump in and say that this is a shameless example of clickbait! Of course, I don’t want you to crush your pastor. However, I want to conduct a thought experiment by thinking about how some of our behavior can negatively affect our pastors. Though I will deliberately describe it in extreme terms, sadly, you may recognize (as I do about myself) that some of our attitudes and behavior towards our pastors are not too far from these extreme examples.
1. Criticize him.
I think one of the number one causes of pastoral stress is unfair criticism. A pastor I know spent most of the service in the church parking lot counseling a distraught wife whose husband had just left her and their three children. He went into the church to preach, but then immediately came back out to continue counseling this poor lady. After the service, someone else came up to this pastor, highly agitated about a very minor matter. This person ended up yelling at the pastor and accusing him of having no pastoral heart! This pastor was one step closer to giving it all in. Try and do things like that as much as possible. Every pastor has faults. Do not let your pastor remain ignorant of his. Point them out as constantly and clearly as you can. You are providing him a spiritual service by keeping him humble.
If you want your criticism to have an extra bite, direct it to his wife. Make sure that the pastor’s family are aware of your disappointment with the pastor.
2. Never thank him.
If you want to crush your pastor, never thank him. Or just do enough to maintain a polite veneer—a quick mumbled thank you as you leave church and shake of his hand should suffice. But make sure you don’t thank him for anything specific. Don’t thank him for the way he supported you and your family through that illness; don’t thank him for the way that he led the church (albeit imperfectly) through the pandemic; don’t thank him for the way that he gave up his day off to support the widow who was moving house; don’t thank him that he often gives up his Friday nights to speak with the youth. Ignore all of that and concentrate on what he does wrong (see the previous point).
3. Be unreasonable.
Above all, don’t try and understand things from your pastor’s perspective. Be demanding and insist that he only do things the way that you think they should be done. Don’t let him have a different opinion or different priorities. You know best. Also, remember that church is all about you. It doesn’t matter if your pastor is serving other people, caring for the sick, visiting people in the hospital, discipling young people. If he is not making you a priority, he has a problem and you have to let him know.
4. Treat everything as a gospel issue.
Remember that every point where your pastor does not agree with your thinking is a gospel issue and you should make as big a deal of it as possible—whether it is how to interpret Revelation, sermon length, or the color of the carpet in the building.
Make sure you do not compromise on anything. If you think that the new carpet in the church should be blue, do not under any circumstances give in to his suggestion that it should be red. If he is reluctant to specially preach on who the congregation should vote for, hound him until he changes his mind or leaves. The gospel is at stake, and you know best!
5. Compare his sermons to the great preachers on the Internet.
This is a very powerful one that is guaranteed to lower the spirits of your pastor. Your pastor will put a lot of time into his sermon preparation. It is important that you never thank him for his sermons; never tell him something specific that encouraged you from his sermon. But instead, constantly tell him how much you enjoy your favorite Internet pastor. Even better, make suggestions for how he could improve his preaching by making it more like your favorite preachers’.
6. Expect him to do everything.
He is the pastor. You are not. He should do all the spiritual work in your church. In fact, his main job is to make sure that you have the best time possible on a Sunday morning. His sermon should be entertaining, engaging, heartfelt, and inspiring. You should then leave straight away and get on with living your life the way you want until next Sunday. Do not under any circumstances contribute anything to the life of the church beyond the bare minimum. Don’t help set out the chairs. Don’t help with the cleaning. Don’t offer to teach Sunday school. Don’t join the visiting team. Don’t welcome. It is all about you and your spiritual needs.
7. Pay him as little as you can get away with.
If you are involved with setting your pastor’s pay, make sure you play hard ball. Go into a salary review meeting with a low offer and stick as close to it as you can. He is a pastor, not a CEO. You are actually helping him to be humble and to rely on the Lord. I once heard of a review meeting where after the meeting one of the deacons said to the pastor that if he had pushed harder they would have paid him more. That is the sort of hardball attitude that you should aim for!
In a companion piece to this one, we consider how to support your pastor. It is important that you read that one, too, so that you don’t accidentally do something that might make things easier for your pastor. Do the steps I have laid out in this post, avoid the steps in the next one, and your pastor won’t last long! Good luck! You’re worth it!
P. S. Again, to be clear, this is (probably not very good!) satire!
Peter Orr is the author of Fight for Your Pastor.