Sometimes pastors hurt people. Sometimes they wound individuals. A pastor may have disappointed you, lied to you, rejected you or even turn his back on you. Maybe you have been hurt by a pastor. Your pastor could have overreacted to something you said or did, and returned later to ask for forgiveness. Or, he could have hurt you and never returned to admit his fault. Whichever the case, today’s blog is for all those who have been hurt by their pastor.
Can I get a witness? I have more than a few people in my ministry that can testify to the hurt and heartache I have caused them.
In today’s post, I am not defending the offensive leader. Neither is the purpose of the blog to excuse an offensive pastor’s behavior. The purpose of the blog is to give you an insight into the life and ministry of a pastor. And in doing so, I hope to give you a different perspective on his offense.
If a pastor has ever offended you, please consider the following measures of grace.
Reason #10: Pastors are sinners.
Like everyone else in the church, pastors are sinners. Pastors are not perfect. They never have been, and they never will be. And all humans, even those who serve as pastors, will do sinful things.
Reason #9: Pastors get tired.
Tired people can be offensive. Be mindful that your pastor may have been tired when he offended you. If so, give him the benefit of the doubt. He may have reacted offensively because he was fatigued.
Reason #8: Pastors live under inscrutable demands.
Speaking of being tired, there are times when your pastor will conduct a funeral service, visit someone in the hospital, participate in a wedding rehearsal and then lead that wedding the next day, take his child to the doctor, attend a dinner party, contact a guest, counsel a disgruntled church member, preach one, two or three times on a Sunday, participate in a committee meeting and have a flat tire all in one weekend. The enigmatic demands of the pastorate can cause pastors to be unkind.
Reason #7: Pastors get discouraged.
Pastors are not immune to discouragement. In fact, they may be more susceptible to heartache than most people. Discouragement can sneak up on a pastor. You may recognize his sorrow before he does. He may even conceal his disappointment behind his public persona. Yet sooner or later every pastor must learn to face the bouts of despair that will encircle him. Be mindful of that when talking to your pastor.
Reason #6: Pastors get angry.
Church members can say and do some really hateful things to pastors or their families. Sometimes your pastor’s reaction to a situation may have nothing to do with you, but rather another situation that has angered or disappointed him.
Reason #5: Pastors have worries.
Even though worry is a sin, pastors still worry. Pastors have bills, accidents, decisions, trials and troubles just like everyone else. And sometimes, just like you do, instead of trusting in the Lord, a pastor will trust in himself or his circumstance and therefore become distracted by his worries. Sometimes pastors are offensive because they are preoccupied with worry.
Reason #4: Pastors have enemies.
I know this comes as a real shocker to many of you, but there are some people in the church who do not like your pastor. Some have so much disdain for their pastor they treat him as an enemy. Imagine being charged with the responsibility of praying for, loving and leading a group of people in which many people like you while a few, vocal others work against you. That would cause a pastor to react in a strange way to certain situations, wouldn’t it?
Reason #3: Pastors are easy targets of criticism.
Your pastor is not perfect and he is going to make some mistakes. I certainly made my share of boneheaded decisions over the years. And, if the truth be told, sometimes the pastor will not see his bad decisions as quickly as everyone else does. No pastor has a corner on the truth and no pastor is above criticism, correction or simple advice. But when you approach your pastor with something you are concerned about, address the problem without attacking the person. Pastors who are attacked often will attack back.
Reason #2: Pastors are burden-bearers.
Being someone’s pastor is actually a very intimate experience. A good pastor will know a lot about you. He has seen you at your best and at your worst. He’s been there for you in times of trial and triumph. You may have confided some personal things in him that are known only to you, him and God as you work through the consequences of sin, personal tragedies and other pains. He has invested his heart and soul in you by praying for you, weeping with you, perhaps even putting your needs ahead of his or his own family at times. That can create a burdensome life. Sometimes those burdens so overwhelm him that he reacts or even overreacts to a situation that may hurt you. Be patient with him.
Reason #1: Pastors are sometimes insecure.
Just about every pastor I know personally has some type of insecurity. Many are unconfident about speaking publicly. Others are timid in their decision-making. More than a few are so wounded from past experiences they are insecure about being insecure. Let that be a reminder to pray for your pastor as he seeks to serve the Lord by serving you.
Tomorrow we will talk about what you should do if your pastor has offended you.