Pastors, no doubt, have a lot on their plate. The emails, phone calls, complaints, hospital visits, weddings, funerals, staff meetings, administrative meetings, planning, sermon preparation, weekends,…and the list goes on and on and on. And pastors typically do not enter into the fiscal management of the church, so what is this about the dangerous spending habits of pastors? Well, there are at least three ways pastors can spend their time and energy that will eventually lead to their personal destruction and perhaps even the destruction of the church they lead. I’ve named three.
- You spend more time focusing and imagining how you look giving your message than you spend on your message.
In 1 Corinthians, we read how the Apostle Paul, before addressing the people at Mars Hill, debated with Barnabas about which robe and sandals to wear. He was concerned that the people might be offended by his dress or put-off by his choice of open-toed sandals. That’s ridiculous! Of course, that isn’t in the Bible, but it’s in today’s churches no doubt. When you dress for delivering your message in a way that doesn’t reflect your genuine personality, you dress inappropriately. You’re being dishonest before God and before man. But when you dress according to your personality and contextual appropriateness, then you dress appropriately. Be authentic before God and man. If you’re humble, you’ll dress as such. If you’re not, you’ll dress as such. It’s not a show, it is an opportunity for people to meet Jesus in a sacred space and you’re the host, the servant. If you’re not the servant, then you’re not the right preacher for those people.
- You spend much time hoping you become a megachurch speaker/teacher/pastor.
If you’re sitting in your study or lying in your bed and imaginations of you preaching to a stadium of people or a megachurch are replacing your imaginations of unicorns and rainbows, then you may be off-course. Now some have been given a vision by God that drives them in that direction. No criticism about that. But if that’s what you’re dreaming for and it’s your dream and not God’s clear vision for you, then you need to step back and evaluate your heart. The desire to pastor a megachurch comes from a heart that wants to be recognized, well-known, maybe even famous. It could be masked with a desire to want to reach thousands, but beneath that seemingly noble hope could be the desire for personal recognition and fame.
- You spend much energy criticizing the motives of other pastors.
There’s no better way to have your church known as the best church in town than to criticize other local pastors to your staff and congregation. Now I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a pastor publicly, on-stage criticize another pastor, but I’ve heard pastors criticize other pastors semi-publicly and even to other pastors. If you’re spending energy criticizing other pastors, then you may have some issues with competitiveness, pride, and insecurity. Perhaps you feel as though you don’t measure up anymore or you feel threatened by the possibility that the pastor in question may be a better leader or speaker than you. Whatever the case, God has called you to preach and he’s called the other pastor to preach. Two different people with two different skill sets leading two different dynamic congregations. Don’t compare yourself to other pastors. Just don’t. It’s not biblical and it’s not healthy for you or your congregation.
If you’re struggling with any one or more of these spending habits, get some help before things turns south. And they will turn south if you don’t, it’s just a matter of time. So if you’re struggling with any of these spending habits, then you truly should take a break from it all and spend some time talking with a mentor or Christian counselor well-versed with pastors. Fasting and praying will also help you to recalibrate your heart, hopes, and desires to God’s. I’m not saying quit. I’m not even saying you need to announce it. I’m saying take responsibility by getting some help, insight, wisdom, and accountability from some people you can trust. You’ll be a better pastor in both the short-term and in the long-run. Further, your congregation will be healthier because you are.