Comparing Pastors

Below is an article I read on Comparing Pastors from Church Answers/Thom S. Rainer on January 11, 2021. Worth posting. Worth reading. Worth evaluating.

Comparisons of pastors have been around since we’ve had pastors. Paul wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 1:12 “Some of you are saying, ‘I am a follower of Paul.’ Others are saying, ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Peter,’ or ‘I follow only Christ.’”

In the first part of the twentieth century, local church pastors were compared to well-known radio pastors. In the latter part of the twentieth century, they were compared to television pastors. Beginning in the twenty-first century, the comparisons were to podcast pastors.

The Idealized Pastor Versus Our Pastor

Church members can have idealized perceptions of pastors they don’t know. These platform personalities often have charisma and incredible communication abilities. It can be tempting for church members to believe their other pastoral skills are as gifted as their communication skills.

We see our own pastors, however, up close and personal. We see their gifts, but we also see their humanity. We see them when they lose patience. We see them when they stumble in their sermons. We see their family members who, like the rest of us, are not perfect. So we often criticize them for their imperfections.

Our Pastor Versus the Idealized Pastor

But those platform personalities will not be with you in your deepest of valleys. They will not be an embrace when your loved one dies. They will not be there for weddings, funerals, celebrations, and moments of deep pain.

Your pastor knows you. The platform pastor does not know you. Your pastor is there for you. The platform pastor does not know where you are. Your pastor loves you and prays for you. Platform pastors can’t pray for you by name, because they don’t know your name.

It Is Time to Rethink How We Treat Our Pastors

  • It is time.
  • It is time to be less critical and more prayerful.
  • It is time to be less judgmental and more forgiving.
  • It is time to be less expecting and more serving.

The beginning of a new year is a time to start fresh patterns and habits.

May some of those habits include loving your pastor more unconditionally, evaluating your pastor less harshly, and praying for your pastor more fervently.

“I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God” (Ephesians 1:16-17).

Thom S. Rainer
Founder, CEO, & Lead Coach
© 2021 Church Answers

  • Your pastor is the one standing in the pulpit in your church.
  • He is the one that prays for your soul, your needs, your family, your requests.
  • He is the one that walks along side you when sorrow strikes or when joy comes in the morning.
  • He is the one that God called to lead, the church, you call home…and lest we forget, he is the one you voted for.
  • He is the one that Scripture clearly states we are to honor, provide for, obey and follow because he is the one shepherding and leading God’s flock called the church.
  • He is the one prayerfully, scripturely, leading you because he watches over your soul.
  • He is the one that losses sleep, weeps in distress, and cares more than he will ever tell because he is humble at heart.
  • He is the one that carries the load of burdens when no one else will because he takes his God-calling seriously.
  • He is the one that lives in loneliness, isolation, and questioned or critique because he is constantly second guessed.
  • He is not viewed as educated or acknowledged as professional because often times he is seen as a threat to the pride and ego of individuals who have purposely built a status or facade around themselves.
  • He is not looked at as a friend or someone who truly cares but rather detested or rejected because he is thought to have an agenda. He couldn’t possibly love freely.
  • He is the one that knows the intense freedom and power the Truth gives yet experiences the rejection of man, both believer and non-believer, which tears his soul into pieces.
  • He is the one that rejoices with you, watches your children succeed, learns your history and life, even though you reject his existence, time, effort, and love.
  • He is the one that loves you unconditionally because he cannot do anything less. He loves because he has been loved by His Father, God, first-handedly and it grips his soul in dedication to the One who placed this call on his life; he sees himself as a sinner saved by grace and nobody special.

So, how are you doing? What does your relationship with your pastor look like? Do you have a relationship with his wife, their children? Could you say you know him personally; you could name a few of his favorite foods or color. You know his birthday or anniversary. You know some of his life’s history or sorrows. If you don’t ask you will never find out.

  • When is last time you asked for his counsel or advice…and followed it?
  • When is the last time you showed him you cared?
  • When is the last time you told him what you learned from the preaching of God’s Word…from the sermon just preached? (or were you to busy critiquing him or just not interested?)
  • Do you know your pastor or do you think you know him? He knows where you stand.
  • Do you pray for him?
  • Do you like him?
  • Do you love him as another brother in Christ?
  • Don’t worry about putting on your Sunday front; the cloak is visible.
  • And don’t worry…your pastor will be the first to acknowledge he isn’t perfect. He too is a workmanship created in Christ Jesus, a progress in God’s hands that has said ‘yes’ to the God-call on his life.

We do well to evaluate are own hearts in how we act or react to the man we call, Pastor! God is watching (not because the man is special but because God said so).

Go. Do. Be an encouragement today.

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}

The View from the Other Half: Pastor Appreciation

{team woodruff}

Pastor Appreciation Month

So, I know we are out a month from October, which many of you have celebrated Pastor Appreciation Month. My original blog was written back in September, but I never posted it. Actually, I thought of deleting it…but here we are. Even though the month has past I will share what the Lord is doing within my heart…

  • I grew up in a very large church.
  • I grew up in a healthy church.
  • I grew up with many wonderful pastors and pastor’s wives.
  • I grew up attending awesome youth groups, camps, and missions trips.
  • I grew up in a family that taught us to respect, honor, celebrate and give thanks for and to our pastors. 
  • I grew up loving, adoring, and wanting to be “just like them” (my pastor’s wives) when I grew up. They profoundly impacted my life for eternity – it is because of them and the working of Christ in my life that I find myself where I am today, serving alongside my husband/pastor.

Being in the ministry for all most two decades now, I still find myself struggling with the month of October — Pastor Appreciation Month. 

I have seen and experienced healthy churches; I have seen and experienced unhealthy churches. In every one I have had the same struggle.

My upbringing, my heart, my love, my God-given duty towards my pastor(s) drives me to want to shout, herald, celebrate — literally from the rooftops and I want everyone else to do the same.

But I can’t — people, the struggle is real! I feel awkward because well, I’m his wife. I am driven by God to support, cheer him on, love and follow his leadership at home and church. I praise him in front of others (he never asks for it) and at home, but this month leaves me with what to do.

  • I don’t want others to think that I am tooting my own horn. 
  • I don’t want others to surmise that I am somehow purposefully conniving to make something happen.
  • I don’t want selfish promotion.

Scripture is clear. Scripture in living. Scripture is real. We are to love our pastor and not muzzle the ox (1 Timothy 5:18; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 9:11).

My husband is my husband, but he is also my pastor! I am growing under his godly leadership/shepherding. I love my pastor!

Healthy churches get it (praise God!). Unhealthy churches, if they remain unteachable, they don’t and therefore miss out on God’s blessings for them as a whole (a body of believers).

  • It is hard things to see, yet alone experience, when a body of believers do not want to walk according to Scripture. When they reject the Word and promote such living (yes, there are churches out there like this).
  • It is hard to live within a body of believers who do not want to see the spiritual gem they have been given by God for them (even though they voted for him).

I pondered these things. I have wondered over the years of ministry what God thinks. How it must break His heart when His love for them is so great. Some years, Pastor Appreciation Day has left me questioning what to say or how to respond. It has left me lacking for words (in joy and thanksgiving) and bewildered in sorrow, grieving in silence (I have learned to literally bite my tongue because my flesh is weak and I want to please God). 2020 was been no different. It came once again…  

But this year, something hit me:

Like I said, while growing up our pastors were celebrated — publicly and privately. We gave thanks, showed that thanks and simply it was a blessing. We loved showering them with gifts, money, love, surprises and we enjoyed every minutes of it. It was (is) good to be thankful and rejoice in God’s gift to us. It was good for our pastor(s) to know they were loved, cherished, and thankful for…they need encouragement too. Over the years we found was to be creative but the heart attitude and choice was rooted in Scripture, love and thanks. We also celebrated their anniversaries (wedding and the date/month our senior pastor became our pastor) plus their birthday. It was our highlight as a body of believers.

BUT what struck my heart most this year was this:

  • I’ve been blessed. Truly blessed!
  • I know what it is like to have such a blessings — a pastor and his wife (a godly team) — and reap those benefits.
  • I know that kind of blessing — not everyone does.
  • I’ve been given a gift to share, to tell, to show, to teach, that is biblical, godly, and right.
  • How can I keep it to myself? 

I am nothing special in and of myself, but I have been given this gift of experience, knowing what it is like to “appreciate” your pastor. Today, I am on the other side of that gift…I’m the other half.

The question I have found myself asking is:

“How can I not share?” How can I keep this to myself?” How can I help others grow in Christ, love the brethren so that we can rejoice TOGETHER in the gift God has given to us called “Pastor and Mrs. Pastor, his family” (because they are a team).”

God has given me fantastic preachers in my lifetime and today I celebrate the one the Lord has given to me and to us as a church – today and in the tomorrows to come!

Thank you, Lord for the gift of my pastor. May I be a blessing to him today and throughout this coming new year.

Sincerely, his wife 

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered}

Think Twice

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}

Church Member Beware!

Words have meaning. And if church members start articulating words consistently, those words begin to reflect the priorities and passions of the church.

I (Rainer) wrote a little book (I Will) on statements church members make that can move a church toward Great Commission and Great Commandment greatness. But there are some sentences that can prove harmful, even deadly, to a congregation. Here are seven of the most deadly statements:

  1. “I like our church just the way it is.” When you begin to hear this statement expressed among church members, you can be certain there is no Great Commission heartbeat. We should never want our church to stay just like it is; we should be constantly seeking to reach new people with the gospel.
  2. “My pastor doesn’t visit me enough.” There are so many things wrong with this statement. First, it reflects a ministry where there is expectation that the pastor is to do most of the ministry, instead of equipping others to do the work of ministry. Second, it reflects a dependence and self-centered ministry on the part of church members.
  3. “I always vote ‘no’ just to keep the leadership in check.” This person is the disrupter I described in an earlier post. He or she really wants the focus on self. Attention seeking and self-focus are characteristics of this person. They are toxic to churches.
  4. “I just can’t worship with our style of music.” The worship wars aren’t over. These church members could never be missionaries because their indigenous people group probably wouldn’t be singing hymns from the hymnals. There is no sense of worship with these church members; they are all about their own preferences and desires.
  5. “People know where our church is if they want to come.” This statement reflects deadly ecclesiology and deadly missiology. It assumes that the church is a place; and it assumes that the Great Commission is, “Y’all come.”
  6. “I love you pastor, but…” This statement reflects a church member who is both deceitful and deadly. He or she tells leaders they love them, but puts a metaphorical knife in their backs at the first opportunity. These members tear churches apart.
  7. “I pay my tithes here, so I deserve…” This church member sees his or her offerings as conditional. So, in a real sense, they aren’t offerings as much as they are country club dues. They will continue to pay their way as long as they get their way.

To be clear, most church members do not make these statements nor do they reflect these attitudes.

But healthier church members should and must speak up when they hear other members making such destructive statements.

Otherwise, the naysayers, cartels, critics and bullies will have their way in the church. And the church will soon cease being the church.

This article originally appeared here.

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,

I came across this article last Tuesday, saved it and read it Thursday and was like “yes!”.

Thom made some spot-on points in his article. Believe it or not, sadly, he is right on many accounts. My family and I have seen first hand both the healthy church and the unhealthy church throughout our ministry travels.

What breaks my heart most is seeing the church who has made the decision to not listen because they ‘think’ they know it all yet their church is dying or already dead. Their methods are not working yet they will not listen to the Word of God and ignore those who have God-given tools that could help them. Their hearts are hardened. Their ears are closed. Pride has taken center stage and Christ is tarnished.

Truthfully, it makes me sick.

Christ’s church is not ours to toy with nor is it a place to inflicted others with our own personal vendetta. Church is to be done God’s way. Period. Not our way. God’s church is not Burger King! It ought never to be.

This may not be your church scenario, for that you can praise God for but don’t get prideful. It slips in the back door and Satan uses it with all his might.

  • Don’t go there church! GUARD God’s church and please only Him. Some things come by only fasting and prayer. Seek God first above all. Bring glory to God.
  • Don’t go there believer! GUARD your heart! Don’t get in the way. Serve, adore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but say no to your pride and bitterness.

There is comfort in all this.

  • GOD builds His church, not us.

God is bigger than our sinful souls, even believers. God will build His church, but God is not pleased with rebellion towards or in His church.

It’s God’s church, to be conducted, organized, fulfilled, given, taught, obeyed and lived out God’s way.

Following God’s blueprint for church is perfect because God is perfect. When we don’t, we distrust God’s plan. We then sit on the throne — we tell God that we know what is best.

Trust God. Trust His Word. God knows what He is doing.

Little side note —

1) YOUR PASTOR: He is a saved by grace human being. Not all pastors are created equal, but we are warned in Scripture how to treat our Pastor.

If you have had an unfortunate situation via church remember not all pastors or churches are the same, but before God we are all to be actively obeying God and His Word.

  • Are you harboring bitterness?
  • Do you need to forgive someone?
  • Have you rejected God’s plan for His church and people?
  • Have you ceased ‘assembling yourselves’ together?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, get your grievances or offenses dealt with biblically. You never go wrong following God. When we don’t we find ourselves in sin and our relationship with God is hindered. God will hold us accountable whether we kept His Word and obeyed it or not.

Biblically confront those you need to and leave the results up to God. When you don’t, you are the one who losses in the end, not them.

If your pastor seeks God first over all else, obeys God above man, follows and fulfills God’s instructions — follow his leadership. God has given you a special gift in Him. He is rare. He is God’s Shepherd to you. When you follow his leadership you will be blessed as a church because God is at the helm, not a man.

2) EACH OTHER: Lift one another up to godliness. We are to be walking, living in Christlikeness…display it, give it, show it, fulfill God’s blueprint.

Let’s glorify God together — in and outside the four walls we call church and may others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}

The Pastor Stole Our Spoon!

spoon and pastor

In Christ I am SHE {Saved. Hopeful. Empowered.}