Monday, May 11, 2009

10 People A Pastor Should Fear

Not to be confused with 10 Church People You Shouldn't Trust.

All of these people need grace (EDIT: except for #10, of course, who gives it), but pastors should guard their hearts against some of their words and deeds (EDIT: except for #10, of course, whose words and deeds should be trusted, enjoyed, and proclaimed).

1. The guy who "subtly" reminds you how much he gives to the church.
He thinks he is buying influence, and because some of his money pays your salary, he thinks he is buying more access to you and more pull with you than others have. Relieve him of this illusion if necessary.

2. The young guy who likes it when you rant against stuff or preach angry.
Beware of pleasing young men too much. Young men are notoriously stupid. (I know, 'cause I am one.)

3. The guy or gal who doesn't like it when you rant against stuff or preach angry.
Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. If you're sincerely and reliably preaching the Word, toes are going to be stepped on from time to time. If you're not being self-indulgent about it and you are speaking the truth, beware those who think you should be more "positive" like those fellows on TV.

4. The lady with the unbelieving or spiritually unsophisticated husband who emails you a lot.
Danger, Will Robinson.

5. The person who finds you right after the message to point out something you got wrong, quibble over a minor point, or mention some other criticism.
You are tapped out right after your sermon, and this person will just crush your heart with one soft blow.

6. The person who likes every single one of your sermons.
You ain't that great, and you know it. Don't get puffed up.

7. The guy on the theological hobbyhorse.
His spiritual energy revolves around the rapture, paedocommunion, Calvinism or Arminianism, evolution, what-have-you and he thinks yours should too. These are distractions especially tempting for nerd pastors like me.

8. The podcast sermon connoisseur who thinks, "You really oughtta listen to what John Piper says about that." Etc.
This person is a close relative of #5 and sometimes #2.

9. The worship leader who has CD's of himself.
Always use a less talented guy with a submissive heart over a more talented guy who sees his role as a stepping stone to somewhere else.
This is closely related to the pastor who has written books. :-)

10. God


Kurt N. said...

I think I'm in the #3 category to some degree. The qualifier being that, while I see some warrant for passion and righteous emotion from time to time, most of my worst sermon experiences come from pastors who love to get angry in the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

"Spiritually unsophisticated" is a good one. Is that like being too physically disabled to play chess?

Jared said...

It's a catch-all term to refer to a guy -- who is usually a great guy who loves his wife -- who for whatever reason isn't leading his wife spiritually or isn't matching his wife's theological/biblical interest.

I didn't mean it as a derogation.

Ken Stoll said...

...good list Jared and I thought each one had a lot of merit had been a young pastor myself. I'd say we need to beware of anything that doesn't shoot an arrow into the heart of our pride but instead raises the banner of grace.

alic3 said...

where, who, what is the god ?

Jared said...

Where: Everywhere, as he is omnipresent.

Who: YHWH, the triune God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul, and the apostles.

What: The one and only God, who is spirit.

Jared said...

Fyi: This post (and my blog, I s'pose) has attracted the attention of an atheist blogger or two. Sarcasm has ensued on Twitter, etc.

That is why moderation is on. Spam and trolls.

Anybody asking honest, respectful questions is welcome.
Drive-by derision is not.

Bill said...

Ah twitter . . . a complete waste of time AND now used for evil :-)

(just kidding)

I loved all of these, especially #2 (ha ha) and ESPECIALLY #10.

This needs to be cross-blogged at a certain underposted Group Blog (hint hint).


josh said...

Powerful words, Jared. Thanks for the reminder of who is ultimately to be feared and some church people to be wary of.

Randi Jo :) said...

oh God help me not be any of these! I know I'm not # 10 so that's a start.

Anonymous said...

jared, thank's for your answers. Actually I've been searching the truly of god..
R we ??


Terri said...

So...what if the worship leader with the CD has a submissive heart? Talent and pride don't always go hand in hand...just a thought.

Jared said...

If he's got a submissive heart, use him. :-)

I hoped my explanation, as well as the remark about pastors with books, would allow that I'm not anti talent or accomplishments. Just reminding pastors, in an age where excellence is an idol and professionalization is always a temptation, to be wary.

Chanda Canup said...

whoa, lots of comments :)
Great list.

Rob Harrison said...

I would note, God is definitely someone we should fear--but not in the way noted in your second paragraph. God doesn't need grace, after all--and one of the hardest parts of the Christian life (and especially the life of pastoral ministry) is learning not to guard our hearts against him.

Other than that, yeah, I agree. If any of these folks are your elders (perhaps especially #1), they can sink you in a hurry.

Jared said...

Ah, you're right about that, Rob. Poor writing on my part. I will edit.

Jayce said...

#2 Reminds me of Mark Driscoll's talk at TGC:

"In the Bible, there's nothing good said about young men. It says they are passionate and strong. And so are terrorists! That's not necessarily a compliment. So if you're a young man, the Bible doesn't say anything good about you other than there's hope because you'll be around long enough for God to fix you."

And later...

"I always feel like I find landmines by driving over them . . . I don't know why it is with me that way. I have the spiritual gift of devastation - I can break anything! And let me just say this - I hope as an encouragement to young guys - you outgrow youthful passions through the gift of negatives and the pain of failure. And I just don't know any other way to do it. So I give you permission to fail. And I invite you to welcome criticism. And I encourage you to embrace negatives as a gift from God to help you mature and grow up. I am. "

Which I affirm. Young men are notoriously stupid, and I'm more stupid than you since I'm younger than you. ;)

Brent Hobbs said...

Funny list, lots of good points.

Jared said...

Jayce, were you at TGC?
I was, and Driscoll's talk was so unique, so personal.

I really resonated with the landmines remark.

Mick Porter said...

Good points all.

Both I and at least one friend have had big issues from number 4. Reflecting on it, I suspect such women are sometimes (subconsciously perhaps) wanting their husbands to be changed in some way by the pastor/church and so they weigh in to things they should stay out of.

Keith Brenton said...

I wouldn't put 1-9 on a list of people to fear. Maybe a list of people to pray for ...

Jared said...

I define "fear" in the intro, Keith.

And prayer would be included in acts of grace.

Michael Spencer said...

I could write a novel on at least six of these.

#1 pretty much cost me a pastorate.

5,7 and 8 were the same person, got me into Calvinism and cost me a lot eventually. A lot.

Good list.

Byron Harvey said...

The kissing cousin to #6 is the person/couple who is way too quick to praise (anything, not just sermons) way too quickly. "We've finally found a pastor who preaches the Word!" "We've finally found a church that really cares about the lost!" "This is the best ______ we've found!"

That person/couple will be gone within the year. Invariably. It's death-and-taxes certain. I've learned from ministering as long as I have now that people who couldn't be satisfied with any other church/sermon/pastor that you and yours are people that soon won't be satisfied with you, once they get to know you and find out that you aren't Jesus Junior and your church isn't the church at Philippi. Take heart, though; the problem isn't you; it's them.

Maxim: those who are quick to profusely praise are those who are also quick to leave.

Jared said...

Byron, yup.

I wish I had a dollar for every first-time visitor who came up to me after a service and said, "Wow, this was amazing. I'll definitely be back," never to return. I don't get that.

I list that person in a previous post on 10 Church People You Shouldn't Trust.

Susanna Rose said...

Very clever and from what I can gather from being in many a church, a very true assessment! So, who is safe then?:)

Anonymous said...

just thought I would put in my two cents at the end of this. (by the way I liked the different categories very much as I can see many of them from time to time, and brought a chuckle.)
Sussana Rose asked: "...So, who is safe then?"

I say safety is an illusion if it does not originate with the Lord.

-I would also put, that this list of traits that are very common, I think, in many modern day churches; highlight the quality of sincerity Both in observation an introspection.
Neat topic that I didn't expect.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the church always tries to celebrate mediocrity and say that its okay just as long as "your heart is in it" or some other nonsense.

Can this be the motto verse for worship leaders?

Psalm 33:3
Sing to him a new song;play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Tom S. said...

Yeeeeouch! Some things are much too clear... even in the glass darkly.

Jared said...

Anonymous, I don't know. I didn't say that in the post, so it's a weird question.
What I actually said was that we should prefer a less talented guy with a sincere heart over a talented guy with a prideful one. Do you disagree? Pride trumps humility if the prideful guy is slightly better?

Why is it that the church has made an idol of excellence?

Byron Harvey said...

Echoing Jared, I think that we've come a long ways since "celebrating mediocrity"; that's a criticism I used to have, and of course there are many churches that still probably do, but I think we've in many churches swung that pendulum too far the other way, to where we become the "Jesus Show" if we're not careful. Look at some church websites, for crying out loud; as iMonk mentioned in a recent post, the "people pictures" on the sites are of pretty people, models with youthful faces who are invariably posed in a plastic smile; no "real people" are allowed, and that same mindset only allows for pitch-perfect singers and professional musicians, etc.

If "mediocrity" is half-effort, then I'm with you, Anonymous, but if it's defined as "allowing people who aren't as gifted as some American Idol wannabe to have a part", then call me "mediocre".

Anonymous said...

Hey Jared, just found your blog through a link, and I'm glad I did. This list is excellent! I have met all of these people, and many more.

Dampf HomeSchool said...

I did a #5 recently, at the time I didn't know I was being a "#5", but now I know better.
I didn't agree with something my Pastor said at the end of his sermon. He has not talked to me since. If I in fact "crushed his heart with one soft blow" am I truly sorry, that was not my intent. I did email him and asked him to forgive my rudeness. I have learned a hard lesson.

Jared said...

Dampf HomeSchool, even assuming this is what happened, your pastor should not be giving you the silent treatment. :-/

If you can approach him in person again, simply apologize and ask if there's any way you can make it right. If he still gives you the cold shoulder, it's not your thoughtlessness causing the rift, but his.