By David Cox
See part 1 here
In the next series of posts, I am examining more Warning Signs of a Bad Pastor. I am taking these from my own experience and several posts on the subject that I have found around the Internet, comparing all of that with what I understand of Scripture.
- 1 Sign #10 Hard time dealing with Reality
- 2 Sign #11 He took no counsel, or surrounded himself with yes men
- 3 Sign #12 A bad Pastor does have (or loses) a correct focus on the Ministry
- 4 Sign #13 A bad pastor works poorly with other workers.
- 5 Sign #14 A bad pastor has poor communication skills
- 6 Sign #15 A bad pastor does understand “risks”
- 7 Sign #16 A bad pastor is a hypocrite
Sign #10 Hard time dealing with Reality
For signs 1-9 see previous post Warning Signs of a Bad Pastor.
It has been my understanding for all of my ministry and even before that the position of “Pastor” as presented in the Bible is biblical, and it is. A pastor is a “governor” of the local church as a father/husband is a governor of his home (according to 1TIm 3:4-6). Moreover he is not to be a novice. He is to be tried and proved in that of leadership, and especially church leadership.
Many pastors “go into lala land” as I put it. This happens when a pastor (either never understanding this, or getting to a point where they don’t care any more) loses the mission that was given to him in leading the sheep. The real, spiritual benefit of the sheep gets lost in the hussle and bussle of Christian life. Usually this happens when church conflict comes, or when a pastor gets too chummy with other pastors and competition between them becomes his priority, or a pastor gets too chummy with a Christian school, and he begins to enslave himself and his church to pleasing that school.
My understanding has always been that the pastor is the fixer. Whatever is wrong in the church, it is the pastor’s moral and spiritual obligation to fix it. If people stand in his way, he uses his means to convert them to his position, he examines their position and gets converted to their position (if he wasn’t on the right side of the Bible from the beginning, then that is a bad sign no matter how you twist it), or he preaches until they leave and does evangelism until they are replaced. But the pastor has to fix what is wrong.
Pastors as fixers
Pastors need to have their finger on the pulse of the church, those getting saved (especially evangelism), those fighting personal holiness issues, and those praying. Any good pastor is going to stick his nose into all of those things. Actually he is going to be very active and having a positive effect on all of them. Moreover he is going to know what is going on in his church, and in his culture around them.
It is beyond me how a man can call himself called of God, and yet not study the religious trends and downward turning of churches against God and a holy lifestyle. I visit many churches in my travels as a missionary. It is seriously discouraging to see so many churches taken down by neo-evangelicalism, by ecumenicalism, and by other seriously bad “trends” like the Emergent Church, and when I mention these things to a pastor, he hasn’t a clue to any of them. I honestly have seen pastors that have a hard time trying to explain the gospel to an unsaved person. How can this be?
Sign #11 He took no counsel, or surrounded himself with yes men
I think that the problem is simply that a man got into the pastor ministry that was not mature. Maturity is a hard think to discern, and unfortunately, few unmature people can discern maturity in a pastoral candidate, so there is the problem. There are no real men of God in most churches, men who are mature and pressing towards God’s will in their own lives, and are able to see what the church should be doing either.
On the one hand, we see these lone wolf pastors who simply know everything (usually they are young in the ministry), and they cannot receive counsel, advice, or simply comments on anything they are doing without being personally offended. This is bad.
On the other hand, we see pastors who get a brood of men who are yes men, and they get into favor with the pastor (by always agreeing with him), and this is another problem. These pastors squash and demoralize anybody with any kind of suggestion other than, “Let’s do whatever stupid thing that comes out of the pastor’s mouth.”
There is wisdom in a majority of counselors. A pastor must develop these counselors by at least considering what they have to say, and give and protect their dignity in having a differing opinion from the pastor. It is only when a pastor has created this environment of hearing out good counsel without a whoever-speaks-we-must-obey-attitude that people will participate joyfully.
Once you have this great benefit in your ministry, we see another bad pastor quality, having good counsel, he ignores it. Some people are so hard headed, or so proud, that they must be the originator of everything. This is a bad sign.
Sign #12 A bad Pastor does have (or loses) a correct focus on the Ministry
Unfortunately, so many churches and pastors have just lost the mission of the Church. That mission is to fulfill God’s will, and that will for us and the church is to reach the lost with the gospel, and then organize them into a local church which is a family, and there teach them to do the same. This family and these workers must have a brotherly relationship, and they must be holy, just like Jesus Christ. Evangelism both locally and globally must be extremely important as seen in preaching, emphasis, priorities, money expenditure. Prayer must be set on top of all as the accepted means of making all this happen.
So many churches have shifted their focus into other “good ministry things” which are just good, not the most excellent things. Some have never understood this, but they are exciting charismatic type speakers that attract a lot of people, but don’t worry much about getting God’s work done.
Sign #13 A bad pastor works poorly with other workers.
A bad pastor doesn’t bring up other workers in the faith, and/or those he does have, he doesn’t trust.
The entire church thing is a process whereby one person comes into the process for so many years, and they get old and die, and somebody else has to take over. This element of church work is so poorly understood by Christians, and so well understood by Satan, that it is a shame. Satan will use a good minister in his lack of transmitting his devotion and furor to others, and when that minister goes off the scene, everything falls apart.
There is a great need to find other faithful men (like Paul said to Timothy) to train up. A great pastor is one who teaches the Bible well, who lives the Bible well in his own life, in that of his personal family’s life, and in that of his church and ministry.
But an excellent pastor is one who can actually convince other Christians to follow in his footsteps, and do the work of the ministry like he is doing. To lead people is to have them follow what you are doing, have the same moral values that you have, and have the same dedication as what you have. We have few leaders today.
Sign #14 A bad pastor has poor communication skills
What an indictment on a preacher! He cannot communicate! But this is so true. Many pastors just cannot get their meaning across, nor can their get others to understand their priorities and points of view (their ministerial philosophy).
Sign #15 A bad pastor does understand “risks”
This is another form of #12 lost ministry focus. Many pastors are worried about what the churches actions will do to their membership, and attendance. A “good” pastor never worries about that. A good pastor worries about what God will say, not what man will say. This doesn’t let him ignore wise counsel (Sign #11) though.
These bad pastors are always trying to be popular with their people, and quite frankly, they will never preach strongly the Word of God. They are preaching from the Bible what does not offend or cause rebuke. They are populist preachers.
Sign #16 A bad pastor is a hypocrite
There is a universal principle in transferring morality from one person to another. There has to be a good clear biblical imperative behind the message. That means that to not lie is not good enough, because it does not have the commandment of God attached to it. You should not lie because God has said, “Do not lie”. That is where the power comes from to transform lives.
But here, Satan allows his bad preachers to actually get away with saying it, because he uses this hypocrisy thing. The universal principle of God is that the message must be correct (biblically attached to verses correctly exposited) but the messenger must live what his message is. Hypocrisy is when a womanizer stands in the pulpit and exhorts people not to be womanizers (he still doing it). By doing this this way, it teaches people to say the right things, but live however they desire.
The whole area of Christian ethics is something like civics, it “went away” and nobody knows what happened to it, or any more, they don’t even know what it is. Ethical behaviour as a pastor is what validates his weekly preaching and teaching.