The Sins of a Pastor

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Over the past week, I’ve been doing a series on The Sins of a Pastor. These sins are not necessarily unique, but I believe most pastors struggle with them. They are also sins that can be easily hidden, seen as spiritual things, the right thing for a pastor to do and they are often things the church or elders of the church encourage without realizing it.

If you missed any of them, here they are:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. Untouchable.
  3. The Pastor’s Family.
  4. Need to be needed.
  5. Letting your wife shoulder the load at home.
  6. Lazy.

The Sins of a Pastor || Giving Away too Much at Home

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.
  3. The pastor’s family. 
  4. The need to be needed. 

The fifth sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of giving away too much at home. I think this sin could just be labeled to all men.

This can look any number of ways:

A pastor disciples people for a living so is lazy at home. Much like the first sin we discussed that a pastor uses his bible only for sermon prep, when you disciple people for a living, the last thing you want to do is come home and do more “work.” As a pastor, I get this. It is easier to disciple others than those closest to you. The problem is that as a man, you are called to pastor your family. Every man, every father. Many men fall into this trap because his wife spends more time with the kids, he lets her disciple more than she should. Now, hear me out here because if you miss this, you will miss the point. In our family, Katie spends more time with our kids than I do. But, as the head of our house, it is my job to set the tone of family worship and discipleship. Together, we talk through what our kids will learn, what as a family we will study, what things she thinks will work best for our kids at their various ages. Too many men simply let their wives do this alone instead of walking together in it.

Does not give a vision to his family of where they are going. Many pastors are strong visionaries. They lead building campaigns, launch new ministries, cast a vision for where their church is going. Yet, they have no vision for their family. Think for a moment, do you have a way of deciding how to spend your money or time as a family? How do you know who you should spend time with? What is the most important thing for your family in the next 2-6 months? How will you know if the next season will be busy or if it is time to slow down as a family? Your family needs this, they need the structure that you as the husband/father should provide.

If you don’t have a clear mission statement for your family, read this. The bottom line, if your ran the church how you run your family, how would it go? How long until you got fired for having no vision or organization?

Makes his church more important than his family. Many pastors children grow up to despise the church and the reason is because they grew up feeling like the church was more important than they were. Dad skipped things for church stuff. They were pushed aside for things at church. Now, pastors should work hard, just like any other man. No child should grow up feeling they got leftovers from their dad.

Here are some ways to communicate to your wife and kids they are more important than your job:

  1. Tell them. One day, someone else will pastor Revolution Church. I will die or retire. No one else will parent my kids.
  2. Date nights and daddy dates. Every week you should have a date night with your wife, pursuing her, wooing her, loving her. Every week, you should have a daddy date with one of your kids. Spending time with them, doing something they want to do.
  3. Don’t look at email, social media or messages when you’re off (especially during dinner). This seems obvious, but a lot of people in our culture are addicted to technology. We go into cold sweats at the prospect of not checking social media or email for an evening, let alone a whole day. If that’s you, you should for sure turn it off.
  4. Communicate your family’s important to your church. Tell your church from up front how much your family matters. Bottom line pastor, if your marriage or family falls apart, so does your ministry. If your marriage falls apart and your church doesn’t fire you or put you on a leave of absence, you shouldn’t be there anyway. It is one of the qualifications of being an elder. You should never use an illustration that paints your wife or kids in a bad light. Need an illustration of what not to do, use yourself as an example. Talk about how important they are. Tell your church that by valuing your family, they are valuing the church. If I’m talking to someone at church and one of my kids comes up and says, “Excuse me Dad” like we’ve taught them, I’ll ask the person I’m talking to to wait. If this frustrates them, that’s okay. My wife and kids are that important. I’d expect and hope someone would do that to me.
  5. Be at their stuff.  As a pastor, you have a flexible schedule. Use that to your advantage with your family. You can work on a sermon after your kids are in bed, you don’t have to do it at 2pm during a school recital.

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The Sins of a Pastor || Need to be Needed

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.
  3. The pastor’s family. 

The fourth sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of the need to be needed. This directly affects what we talked about yesterday and how the pastor and his family are seen.

Many pastors as they become pastors do so out of a sense of wanting to help people. This can be seen in counseling, in discipling people or walking alongside of them. They want to help people.

This can hide for a time any way, the need to be needed. This shows up when a pastor:

  1. Must be at every meeting or party for the church.
  2. Visit every person in the hospital.
  3. Follow up with every guest or new Christian.
  4. Baptize everyone.
  5. Always preach.
  6. Never take a vacation.
  7. Respond to every email and call.

Now, I’m not calling for pastors to be lazy. In fact, the last sin we’ll talk about is how lazy many pastors are.

Pastor, take a minute and ask yourself some of these questions:

  • How much do I need to be needed?
  • Do I need to check every alert on Facebook, twitter or email?
  • Do I keep my phone on during dinner with my family and answer it when it rings?
  • Do you check your email or answer your phone on your day off?
  • Do you take a day off every week?
  • Do you take all your vacation days?
  • Do you miss any Sundays?
  • Do you take any Sundays off from preaching?

You may fall prey to the desire to be needed and that may be driving you and your ministry more than Jesus. If so, take a day off, turn your phone off and take a break from preaching.

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The Sins of a Pastor || The Pastor’s Family

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.

The third sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of the pastor’s family and the view they give.

The blame for this sin sits with the pastor, his wife and the church. Often equally.

First, many pastors and their wife feels the need to be perfect. They feel that they are on this pedestal and must always appear happy, put together, growing in their relationship with Jesus. No flaws can ever be seen in their marriage, parenting or life. Often, church members want this. They want their pastor and his wife to appear above the struggles they have. Consequently, a pastor and his wife always feel like they are putting on a show, unsure of who they can be real with, unsure of who they can let their guard down around. What quickly happens is anger, frustration, sadness stay pent up until it becomes bitterness and rage that is let out at the worst possible moment.

This gets past on to the kids of a pastor. They feel that they have to behave perfectly, almost like little adults. I remember when we first started Revolution and after a service all the kids, read that again, all the kids in our small church plant were dancing on the stage and jumping off. A woman came up to me and said, “Is it a good idea for your kids to be on stage dancing and jumping off the stage? I’m not sure a pastor’s kid should behave like that?” Notice, there were 12-15 kids doing this. My kids at the time were a little over 1 and 3 and a half. I looked at her and said, “I can’t think of a better thing for my kids to do be doing right now than acting like little kids and having fun.”

This one is difficult because when expectations don’t match up, fights and division occur.

As the pastor, you have to lead on this one. In your home and in your church. You set the tone.

For me, I have friends I can vent to. Friends I can be myself around. Friends I can blow off steam with. Friends that when I get angry at someone, am hurt or frustrated will listen and then challenge me with the gospel. Friends who don’t expect me to be perfect.

Your wife also needs to have friends like this.

As a pastor, you must give your wife permission to be your wife and a church member. We tell the wives of our pastors, we expect you to act and serve like any other mature church member at our church. We think mature Christians will serve and use their gifts, have a quiet time, raise their kids if they have them. This changes with life stage. There was a time when my wife did nothing but help to lead a missional community with me. I had some people ask why she didn’t do other things and I explained our philosophy, Katie’s gift mix and the age of our kids. They were unhappy and left our church.

Your reaction to that last line pastor will determine if you will find a healthy balance in this.

If you are a church member, expect your pastor to live out the qualifications of an elder, but don’t expect him to be Jesus. Your pastor did and will not die on the cross for you and rise from the dead. He cannot be Jesus. He doesn’t need to be Jesus, we already have a Jesus and he is perfect and amazing and worthy of our worship. Not your pastor.

Here are a few more things to do:

  1. Ask your pastor and his wife how you can pray for them. Don’t look for gossip, just to pray for them.
  2. Give them a gift card to a restaurant for a date night as a way to bless them. Don’t expect anything in return, you are blessing them.
  3. Expect their kids to be kids and act their age. If they have teenagers, expect them to make boneheaded teenager moves like every other teenager. If they have little kids, expect them to tear things up like other little kids.
  4. When you hear someone say, “My old pastor did this or my old pastor’s wife did this, why doesn’t this pastor or his wife do that?” Gently but firmly explain this and then tell them, “If you liked it so much, maybe you should go back to your old church and your old pastor.”

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The Sins of a Pastor || Untouchable

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

If you missed the first sin: your bible is more for than sermon prep, you can read that here.

The second sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of being untouchable. While every pastor would tell their church they should be in community, have an accountability partner, have people in their life that knows them, very few pastors actually experience this.

This can be hard for a pastor. Knowing who to trust, how much to trust them are difficult things to wrestle with. If you are curious how to find an accountability partner as a pastor, read this.

This isn’t the only reason pastors aren’t known and have an air of untouchability about them. Their churches often demand it and pastor’s fall right in line with it. Many churches want their pastor’s to be superman. They want their pastor to talk about struggles to the point that they seem relatable, but not too much. Churches often want to keep their pastor, his wife and his kids on a pedestal. Because of this, pastors work hard to keep that pedestal up and working.

This leads pastors into all kinds of dangerous places. If no one knows a pastor well enough, no one can call out his sin. No one can challenge him with working too much, not eating well (which is an enormous problem for many pastors as so many are overweight), not sleeping enough.

Pastors are also very good at wielding their influence. People will do what the pastor says. Even in our culture that hates authority or holds pastors no in high regard, people care what a pastor does, what he reads, what he likes and then they often emulate that. If a pastor is not careful, he can easily push to the outside someone who gets on his nerves or seems to be divisive. People pick up on this and do the same thing.

Pastor, can anyone call you on your sin? What happens if they do? I’m not talking about the person who will email you next week to complain about an illustration. I’m talking about an elder, another pastor who can look you in the eye and say, “What you said was inappropriate. How you treated your wife is not okay.” Do you have anyone like that? If not, you are bordering on being untouchable.

Yes, I know. As a pastor you are accountable to God. I get it, I preach it, I believe it. We are also brothers and sisters in Christ and are to be accountable to each other. That’s in the Bible too.

If you care about pastor, make sure he has someone in his life who knows his junk, who he can talk to and is being held accountable to.

Here are some questions I work through with my accountability partner:

  • What is God teaching you right now?
  • What in your life can we celebrate?
  • How are you serving your family? (for our time, we have to bring the answer our wife gives to this question)
  • How are you pursuing your wife? (for our time, we have to bring the answer our wife gives to this question)
  • What can I be praying for you about?

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The Sins of a Pastor || Your Bible is for More than Sermon Prep

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in. This is the first part in a series of blogs on The Sins of a Pastor. 

The first one is Your bible is for more than sermon prep. 

Most pastors spend the majority of their week in their Bible working on a sermon. There is a debate among pastors as to whether that should count as their devotions or if they should separate their devotions from sermon prep.

For me, my devotions are tied into my sermon prep. Right now, I am preaching through John. As I work on each sermon, I spend the first part of my week simply mediating on the passage I’ll be preaching from. This allows the text to become personal and work on my heart so my sermon becomes an overflow of what God is doing in me.

Because of planning ahead, I also use my devotional time to research future sermon topics and let different books of the Bible speak to me. For example, a few years ago I was going to do a series on Habakkuk but on vacation really felt like I needed to read through 1 & 2 Peter everyday while we were away. I had no idea why, just a sense that I needed to dive into these books. Through those readings, we changed our sermon calendar and I ended up preaching through those books.

Often though, pastors will use the reasoning that so much of their job and life is spent in the Bible. “I spend so much time on my sermon that I don’t need to spend time alone with Jesus.” I’ve never had a pastor tell me this, but it runs through many pastor’s heads. What happens then is they preach from a dry heart, from a place that is not meeting with Jesus. They spend so much time discipling other people that they aren’t feeding themselves. They don’t read books outside the Bible that challenge their thinking or bring conviction to their life.

As long as sermons are helpful, no one will notice this sin. Pastors can fly under the radar for years on this and their elders, wife and church will have a hard time knowing. Over time, it will become obvious that a pastor is working from past time with God, meaning, they are running off the fumes of years past. Because pastors often move from churches and job to job, people aren’t able to notice that he is preaching old sermons or using the same stories.

How do you know if this is happening? Here are a few ways:

  • If a pastor has no new illustrations of God’s grace in his life
  • The pastor does not talk about being pushed out of his comfort zone.
  • He has no conversations with unchurched neighbors.
  • He is not praying big prayers for the Holy Spirit to move.
  • His heart does not break for his people and those who do not know Jesus.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about the second sin of pastors, the sin of being untouchable.

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This Weekend @ Revolution || God Loves You

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The title at the top is one of the most basic truths in the Bible. It is on every page of the Bible. Yet, it is also one of the hardest things for people to believe.

This Sunday, as we continue our series Jesus Changes Everything I’ll be preaching from John 3:16 – 21 and looking at one of the most familiar verses in the Bible, John 3:16, a verse that most people inside and outside of the church do not really believe is true.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Some people don’t believe God really exists and so the idea of God’s love is an idea that is not true and unneeded. 
  • Some believe God is this distant, judgmental, harsh, arrogant God that couldn’t possibly love anybody.
  • Others believe that God loves the world, but not them. This is why they beat themselves up over their sin, try to prove themselves or work hard to “be good.”
  • Others wonder if God has forgiven them for everything as they continue to ask for forgiveness for this they’ve done, trying to make it right.
  • Others can believe that God loves the world and see that as a nice idea, but don’t see why they need God’s love.

So, if you fall into one of those categories or know someone that does, you need to be at Revolution Church on Sunday.

Remember, we meet at 8300 E. Speedway Blvd. at 10am.

Some Quotes from “Follow Me” that will Push You

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I just finished reading David Platt’s new book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live (kindle version). Usually I write a book review, so here is my review.

You need to read this book. 

Here are some quotes to push your thinking and hopefully push you to pick up the book:

  • When people say they don’t “feel close to Jesus” I ask them if they are making disciples. After all, the promises for Jesus to be with us is directly tied to his command to make disciples. Experiencing God happens when we are being his witnesses and making disciples.
  • Repentance is a rich biblical term that signifies an elemental transformation in someone’s mind, heart and life. When people repent they turn from their walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction. From that point forward, they think differently, believe differently, feel differently, love differently and live differently. When Jesus said, “Repent” he was speaking to people who were rebelling against God in their sin and relying on themselves for their salvation.
  • We can’t fathom a Christian on the other side of the world believing that a wooden god can save them, but we have no problem believing that religion, money, possessions, food, fame, sex, sports, status and success can satisfy us.
  • The penalty for sin is not determined by our measure of it. Instead, the penalty for sin is determined by the magnitude of the one who is sinned against.
  • Jesus is not calling these disciples because of who they are, but in spite of who they are.
  • No one has ever been saved from their sins because they have pursued Jesus. Everyone who has ever been saved from their sins knows that they have been pursued by Jesus – and their lives haven’t been the same since.
  • Jesus has not invited us to journey to him; instead, he has made the journey to us.
  • The only reason we can seek Christ in our sinfulness is because Christ has sought us as our Savior.
  • Being a disciple of Jesus means we are not called to simply believe certain points or observe certain practices, but ultimately to cling to the person of Christ as life itself.
  • Becoming and being a disciple of Jesus involves far more than mere intellectual belief in Jesus, but it certainly doesn’t involve anything less.
  • It is impossible to separate faith in Jesus from feelings for Jesus.
  • The Bible portrays the church as a community of Christians who care for one another, love one another, host one another, receive one another, honor one another, serve one another, instruct one another, forgive one another, motivate one another, build up one another, forgive one another, motivate one another, build up one another, encourage one another, comfort one another, pray for one another, confess sin to one another, esteem one another, edify one another, teach one another, show kindness to one another, give to one another, rejoice with one another, weep with one another, hurt with one another, and restore one another.
  • This is how God grows the church and reaches people: through holiness in Christians. God grows his church by creating disciples who are serious about reflecting the righteousness of God and honoring the holiness of God.
  • More important than asking people to pray a prayer, we are calling people to lose their lives – and find new life Christ.
  • Disciple making involves far more than just leading people to trust in Christ, disciple making involves teaching people to follow Christ. This necessitates that we show people (particularly new Christians) what the life of Christ looks like in action.

How to Sin to get Attention

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On Sunday, I preached on making decisions and how to make wise ones instead of foolish ones.

Foolish decisions are easier to make and get your more attention.

I’m not sure you can argue with the truth of that statement, but you can try. I think many people make foolish decisions, sinful decisions simply for attention. If you make foolish decisions, run your life close to the rails, off the rails, you’ll get attention. If you make wise decisions, you won’t.

I know many people right now who are making choices, just for attention. Whether that is living with someone they aren’t married to, being in a homosexual relationship, going into debt, continuing in an addiction, staying unemployed. All in an effort to get attention.

Now, they won’t say their sin is for attention.

Here’s a question for you to wrestle with, is there any sin in your life that you are committing simply to get attention? You know it is broken, but you continue in it because that is how you get someone to notice you.

When You Shouldn’t Pray

You might read that title and think I’ve lost my mind. Why would I tell you not to pray? Aren’t pastors always telling people they should pray and pray more? Yes. There is a good chance you don’t pray enough in your life. As there’s a good chance I don’t pray enough in my life.

That’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is when you shouldn’t pray.

What I mean is that we often pray about things that Scripture is very clear on. Then, when we feel like God hasn’t given us an answer to our prayer (because He’s already given us an answer in Scripture), we decide to do something. Usually, not always, but usually this leads to us sinning in some way.

Here’s a few examples from recent conversations:

I talked to a guy who is a Christian, he’s dating a girl who is not a Christian. When I asked him why, he told me, “I prayed about it and I didn’t feel like God told me not to, so I’m moving forward with it.” The reason God didn’t tell him, is because he has already made it clear in Scripture that Christians shouldn’t date or marry a non-Christian.

Another:

A guy told me that he was praying about God using him more at his job to be a witness and serve his co-workers. The problem was that God didn’t seem to do anything. He told me, “God just isn’t speaking to me about how to do that.” One of the reasons might be I told him is that God simply wants him to just start serving people, start loving his co-workers. Nothing big, just small ways of loving people.

Another:

I talked to a church planter who worked only part-time while planting his church. He told me the difficulty he and his wife had when it came to finances, as she worked full-time, but he didn’t. When I asked him why, he told me, “I’ve prayed about it and God told me to wait and not look for a full-time job now.” When I pressed him on 1 Timothy 5:8 that says a man who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever, he told me, “God told me to just plant and for her to work.”

Another:

I talked with a couple who have 3 kids. One in school, two who aren’t. They were debating about whether or not the wife should go back to work. They told me they were going to have her go back to work because they prayed about it and God didn’t tell them no. When I asked them why they thought God didn’t move them in prayer, they gave me a blank stare. I explained to them how Titus 2 calls a wife to make her first priority her family at home, clearly when small kids are in the picture.

These are just a few examples of recent conversations, but my point is this: Many times we don’t need to pray about something, we simply need to apply what Scripture already says. We get so caught up in figuring out God’s specific will for something when he has already communicated clearly how we should live in Scripture.

No, your life is not the exception. You don’t get to disprove Scripture and live outside of it. When people tell me, “I know Scripture says this, but here’s why I’m _______________.” They’re simply telling my why it’s okay for them to sin.

Do you agree? Do we need to pray about things that God has clearly written in Scripture?