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I get asked frequently if my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World” is available in ebook format. It is currently available on the Kindle. A lot of people I know have iPads or iPhones and want to know if it is available in the bookstand there. Well, no, but there is...

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A Simple Prayer for the Fallen Pastor

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in brokenness, encouragement, fallenness, forgiveness, holiness, pastors, prayer | Posted on 16-04-2014

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I hear from fallen pastors on a weekly basis. This ministry is a joy because there’s not much out there like it. When I fell phone4four years ago, I felt useless. Now God has transformed my brokenness and allowed me to be useful once again.

When I talk to them on the phone, it’s almost always the same. I can hear the desperation. They sound like I did right after I got caught in my sin. They don’t know me. They don’t know if they can trust me. Then I start talking to them. We trade stories. I tell them there is hope. That Christ does indeed love them. That’s why I’d like to share this with you – it’s something I share with a lot of the men who I talk to. It’s a simple prayer for the fallen pastor.

These men know they have sinned. But there is forgiveness. Will the journey be long as they repent and move forward? Yes. Will it be difficult? Yes.

They always have so many questions. “What do I do about my wife? She’s so angry. She should be. I’ve never seen her this mad.” “What about my children?” “What about the church?” “What am I supposed to do about work?” “I’ve disappointed my parents and my family, what do I do?” “What was I thinking?” “It’s just so hopeless. What am I supposed to think?

The questions are all to familiar. They bring back to me that day when my sin came to light. The day when my sin was exposed. Everyone knew. I deserved the consequences. And all I wanted to do was hide and let the rocks pummel me to death. And as the days and weeks went on it got worse and worse. I wanted to destroy myself and I hated myself.

hopeSo when I get a fallen pastor to talk to me, I know I can offer him hope. The hope that Christ really does love him. He loves us in spite of our sin. I can offer him the knowledge that I love him. Even though he doesn’t know me and I really don’t know him, I just love him because he needs a friend and because we share a common story. I can give him the hope that God takes care of those who repent and despite their sin, they choose to live the next day in a walk toward brokenness and obedience.

There’s always the question, “What do I do about all this stuff going on around me? How can I fix my marriage, my life, my family . . . everything?

I like to tell them to stop worrying about the things they can’t control at the moment. They’ve sinned. There are going to be consequences for the rest of their life. Those are things that they will have to deal with on a daily basis and it’s going to be difficult for a while. I tell them I have a network of people who can help them with all kinds of things. I tell them they’re going to need to start building a group of men who will be strong with them and help restore them back to Christ.

When I share this prayer, it is after I know they’ve asked God for forgiveness and I know they’ve taken the first few simple steps toward repentance. I tell them that asking for forgiveness from God for their adultery isn’t necessary. He’s forgotten it. In fact, if we bring it up to Him, it’s a one way conversation. We’re the ones introducing into the conversation. He’s not.

But I tell them, “What you need right now is the most simple prayer you’ve ever prayed. You could go to God right now and say, ‘God, help my marriage, help my family, help my church, help my finances, help my relationships.’ And that would be okay. He understands that prayer.

But in those first few weeks, I like to remember what Jesus said during the sermon on the mount. He told his followers that our Heavenly Father already knows what we need. Now, that’s obviously not a command to stop praying.

Instead, I like to encourage these men to make their constant prayer a simple one. God needs one thing from them right now. Theyprayer4 are at a crisis moment. And their ministry, life, and marriage fell apart for a simple reason – they lost fellowship with Christ. So I introduce them to a most simple prayer:

Lord, you know the circumstances in my life. What I would like you to do is show me the man you want me to become in all of this. Break my heart, humble me, and turn me into a man who is pleasing to you.

I believe that if we allow God to change who we are – to fix what was broken in the first place – then the rest will fall into place.

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Book Review: “52 Heartlifters for Difficult Times” by Diana Savage

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, book review, encouragement, pastors | Posted on 12-02-2014

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52Diana Savage’s book, “52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times” has received some great reviews as a devotional book for all kinds of people. I’d like to take the time to let pastors know why they need to have several copies of this book in their office.

First, Diana is an expert in helping broken hearts heal. She has worked to help many people through her writing, is a well-known speaker, and is an accomplished blogger.

Even better than that, when you read her work, you can feel that she’s been exactly where you are. She has shared the same journey we are all on. In this book, she has taken her own stories and the stories of others and put them in one place to help us find healing at a moment’s notice. She does it with heartwarming stories and the Word of God.

For pastors, this book is extremely helpful. Her meditations are riddled with great stories that can be used as illustrations in sermons, counseling, and devotions. It’s one of those books that pastors can freely hand out to a church member who needs a pick me up. The pastor can know that the book he is giving out contains wise counsel and solid instruction.

Ministers are constantly looking for books to help them in their journey. I would submit that among their heavy tomes of literature on their shelves, Diana’s book would fit perfectly as a practical and Scriptural balance for Christian living and daily help.

I’d add two more things that would be of great advantage for ministers. When this book arrived in the mail, I had to wait two days before my wife finished it so I could even read it. Ministers’ wives are often in need of words of encouragement and a source of refreshment. This book offers just that.

Ministers themselves need something to give them a reminder that God is with them at all times. Diana’s book does just that. Whether it’s a devotion that begins with a humorous story about a dead rat or a story about perseverance through faith in God, this book will be a source of encouragement for the pastor when he needs it.

Take time to get a copy of Diana’s new book and make it part of your collection and see how much it encourages you and your ministry.

____________________

Diana Savage has worked for years working in Christian organizations. She has spent time mentoring, speaking and writing and you can see her at work on her website, www.heartlifters.net. She has contributed to many works over the years including two Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. You can also find her on Twitter.

Diana cares about people, their hearts and it shines through in her writing and her ministry. Besides being a talented writer, she has become a friend to me. Please do take the time to check out her work as well as her new book.

For All The Sinning Ministers Out There

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, advice, affair, church leadership, compassion, encouragement, pastoring, pastors, sin, temptation | Posted on 27-01-2014

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The title of this post is a little misleading. All ministers are sinners. I’m writing this for sinnevery minister, but I’m not. Every church leader should read this, but I’ve got a serious message for a specific group of pastors.

I get at least two emails a week from people whose lives have been changed because a pastor has committed adultery. Sometimes it’s the pastor, sometimes it’s his wife, sometimes a staff member, sometimes it’s a member of the congregation.

There’s one group I’ve never gotten an email from. Not one pastor has ever emailed me and said, “I’m in the middle of adultery. I’m really enjoying it. I’m successfully keeping it from my wife. It’s meeting my needs right now and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get caught. Please let me know what I should do.

I do, however, get plenty of emails from men like that after they do get caught. I was one of them. After I got caught, I thought I was alone in the world. After being thrown to the curb like garbage, isolated, and the object of scorn (all well deserved, mind you), I wanted help. But not while I was hiding it. (For information on the people who are hurt, the stages of the fallen pastor, and how to help, check out my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.“)

decisionWhy not? Because I was just fine, thank you. I was managing my sin without any help from anyone and I didn’t want an escape. Were there moments where my mind reflected to Scripture and my conscience rattled me? Sure, but I plunged all that down with the certainty that I was doing the right thing. Life had dealt me a raw hand, I thought. I had been through some serious circumstances, conflict, pain and awful times. I was in a weakened state and didn’t even realize it.

Pastors, I know you’re out there. You’re either in the midst of sin or tottering on the brink of it. You may be texting someone who isn’t your spouse in hopes that it may turn into something else. Deep down you may be thinking, “It’s harmless. All I do is give, give, and give to people. All I want is something for me right now. I’ve finally found someone who understands me.”

You’re probably not going to email me or anyone else for help, so let me give you some advice. Step back, take a deep breath, and get a second opinion (a close friend, old mentor, seminary professor you trust, etc). You won’t like it. If you’re getting an objective opinion, at least listen. Be honest. Tell them the core of your sin. Just listen, don’t argue.

But I’ll tell you this – if you’re far out there, you’re in need of intervention. Worst part, if you’re out there, you’re probably very defensive and full of justification. Humility at this point will go a long way. But you have to be willing to take a first step.

If you do reach out to me, I’ll always listen. I won’t excuse sin, but I won’t judge you as a rroadperson. I will walk with you even if no one else does.

For the rest of you pastors out there? Maybe you’re doing great. Holiness abounds. Beware, though. Circumstances piled upon conflict, upon anxiety, upon unrealistic expectations can turn your heart away from God.

If you have a pastor friend you know who fell into sin? Reach out to him, regardless of how long ago it might have been. You’d be surprised how much good you can do to just talk. It’s a lonely world for a fallen pastor. Remember that showing love and grace to any sinner is what we are called to do – because, pastor, one day, it could be you.

_______________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” If you are a fallen pastor, a pastor in trouble, a church whose pastor has fallen, or need someone to talk to your group about preventing ministry failure, please feel free to contact Ray here. All messages will be kept confidential.

What Do Pastors Really Know?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in encouragement, pastoral care, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 04-06-2013

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I wrote a blog a while back challenging whether pastoring was the toughest job in the world. I got some good feedback, pastoringbut I wanted to clarify that blog a little.

Pastors do undergo a lot of stress. I write about the high expectations pastors face in my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” Pastors are expected to juggle 16 major tasks at once. They are to look over the spiritual well being of the church, visit the ill, attend meetings, and soforth. If pastors get overwhelmed, it can be one of the things that lead them over the edge.

Not only that, but pastors get asked a lot of really, really difficult questions. Think about these for a moment:

“Where does my kitty cat go when he dies?”

“Where did God come from?”

“Why did my mother die of cancer?”

“Explain the end times to me.”

“Are certain people chosen for salvation?”

“Why do evil people seem to thrive yet I’m obeying God and I’m barely making it day to day?”

“How is Jesus both God and man?”

Difficult questions to be sure. When I pastored and really believed I had it “all figured out,” I had pat answers to most of those questions. After I fell, I realized it was my pride that led me to believe I had it “all figured out.” A lot of it is still God’s mystery and we still have to accept on faith.

Are pastors expected to have pat answers or compassionate ones? That’s not saying they can’t be mutually exclusive. Some say that a few of these questions are paradoxical. Others say that if a pastor has an answer to a question like Calvinism vs. Arminianism, he’s full of arrogance.

encourageIt’s tough being a pastor. Being the one who people go to for answers about ultimate truths. Being there during times of need and supplying comforting words when words seem so trivial.

If you have a pastor who has helped you, I encourage you to send him a card, an email, or a note giving him encouragement. You might not realize it, but many pastors feel discouraged very frequently. Many are focused on what they are doing wrong instead of what is going right. A kind word can go a long way.

What does a pastor know? Proabably a lot. And it should be shielded with humility, grace and kindness. But it should also be supported by the flock with encouragement, love and prayers.

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Gay Marriage, the Church, and the Jesus Response

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in belief, bitterness, boundaries, brokenness, Christ, church, church members, community, compassion, current events, divisiveness, encouragement, gay marriage, grace, hate, hatred, homosexuality, judgment, love, religion, repentance, salvation, scripture, self-righteousness | Posted on 27-03-2013

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I was so thankful yesterday to get a Facebook inbox message from a friend who was concerned about the current argument in America over gay marriage. Like many Christians, she was concerned about the moral failure of the country. She had been watching Facebook and so have I. I too, have seen many comments like, “Why don’t people see what Scripture says?”

I’ll be honest. I don’t watch television news. For a good reason. It’s only purpose seems to be to rile people up over things that are insignificant. You get stressed out. I mentioned in an online magazine recently how watching TV news in a constant flow caused my mother anxiety.

She said she read my blog occasionally and never saw me write anything about the issue. I don’t. My blog is about fallen

Pic courtesy of PBS

Pic courtesy of PBS

pastors, mostly. Then, I write about issues secondary to that. Then, after that, I write about what tickles my fancy. I don’t avoid the big issues. I’ve written about big issues before, but they’re just not on the radar of what I do.

My response to her was probably not what she expected, but I hope it was biblical. (She did thank me for the sermon :)) I want to post it here then add some comments after. Here it is, verbatim:

Here is what I would say. And I pray it’s the biblical thing, because any response of my own would be wrong.

I’d take it back to the apostle Paul who wrote to a church that was probably going through more moral decay than we are, if you can imagine. In his time, it wasn’t just the culture, it was members of the church who were declining in morality. Members of the church were going up to the pagan temple and sleeping with temple prostitutes.

Paul was surrounded by a pagan Roman culture that was filled with violence, sex, child molestation, and hedonism – and all of it was legal. But Paul didn’t write against the evil around him in the world. He wrote about the sin within the church. He says something interesting in 1 Corinthians 5:

Please take time to read more important stuff after the jump:

Pastors Need Comfort To Avoid Disaster

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affirmation, book, church, comfort, encouragement, expectations, pastoring, pastors, pornography, preachers, regret, wife | Posted on 20-07-2012

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(Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about several reasons why the book “Fallen Pastor” is for anyone concerned about the future of the church. We are in the midst of a crisis and need to understand how to approach it).

I conducted an interview recently with Joy Wilson, author of “Uncensored Prayer.” I asked her a question that has been haunting me. When I wrote, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” I never looked back and thought it was incomplete. But I asked Joy the following question: “In hindsight, is there a message you wish you could have added to the book?”

Since I asked that question, I have been consumed by it. I wish I had added something to my own book. Pastors are very needy people. They need comfort, just like everyone else. If their comforts are not being met, it can become a dangerous place for the enemy to step in.

When I say comfort, I don’t mean that pastors need to be pampered 24/7. I’m not talking about the idea that trouble will come and pastors need to face them. Let me explain.

Tonight, my lovely wife Allison and I went to a local diner after a funeral visitation. Usually, when I go to a small mom and pop diner, I won’t even crack the menu. I will simply ask the server, “What is the best thing you’ve got?“At this restaurant in Crofton, Kentucky, they had three pages of meals that all looked really good to me at the moment. But I knew that there was something there that they did really, really well.

Our waitress paused and said, “The open faced roast beef sandwich. It’s served with a side of mashed potatoes and covered with gravy.”

I said, “l’ll have that.” Know why? Because her recommendation was more than just what they did best. It was something she had eaten. It was comfort food. It was food for the soul. And my goodness, when it came, it fed my soul.

I was suddenly reminded that pastors need comfort. A lot of people who read this won’t like what I have to say in the next few paragraphs, but it is important if we are going to change this culture. A culture in which I fell. A culture in which 1,500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry, many due to moral failure.

Pastors work in high pressure situations, regardless of the size of their churches. Much is asked of them. Many of these men see the ministry as an extremely high calling, and they should. Unfortunately, many of these men sacrifice time with their families and wives to do the work of ministry because of overly high expectations placed on them by their churches or by themselves.

They have no comfort. Some, over time, seek out comfort through a quick fix of pornography. Some, whose marriages are deteriorating because of ministry, look elsewhere. That may come as a shock to some. The pastor shows up on Sunday with his lovely wife, his beautiful children – some people think, “I wish my family was like that.

But what many people do not realize is that the pastor’s home life is in shambles. His home life and marriage is in awful shape. Why? Because he has laid out everything in pursuit of the ministry.

In his mind, he has justified it all. He thinks he is doing the work of God. He visits the sick, attends deacons meetings, preaches the word, evangelizes the lost. But over in the corner, the relationship with his wife and family is fading and he doesn’t realize it.

He comes home from a bad day and tries to talk to his wife, only to see that she has become alienated from him. It is his fault. It is their fault. There is no comfort. So he seeks comfort elsewhere,wrongfully, sinfully. Through porn. Through lust. And maybe though an inappropriate relationship nearby.

Friends, what I am telling you is that pastors need comfort from home. From their churches. Just like those fried chicken home cooked meals mom used to fix. Pastors cannot be expected to extend themselves out on the church field and forget about the most important mission field – their family.

Comfort, the greatest and best comfort comes from home. Don’t extend your pastor so much that he can’t have the touchstone of relief from his wife and children.

When I was writing my book and interviewing fallen pastors, the most common traits of a fall were so obvious. The expectations were too high, they were isolated from having real relationships, there was too much conflict over silly things and they had lack of intimacy with their spouses.

Each of these things beg for comfort! The pastor needs friends, real friends who will comfort him! He needs a church body and leadership who will be able to discern what is really important – the preaching of the Word, not what color the carpet will be. He needs people in the congregation who understand him as a fallen sinner, like them, who has weaknesses. He needs them to be comfortable with his strengths and weaknesses as a leader.

Finally, he needs time at home to be comfortable with his wife and family. Most pastors get a day off during the week. But when I talk to my current pastor friends, they still get calls from the church on their days off. Pastors need time one on one with their wives. To bond, to heal. The ministry is, unfortunately, a battlefield. It doesn’t just involve the pastor, it involves his whole family. Give him time to nurture his family. To date her. To spend sweet emotional time with her, to forget the travails of the church for a few hours.

It’s funny as I write this, my power is out. I’m writing this on my iPhone as storms are wreaking havoc across the county where I live. Understand this: pastors who do not have adequate support and comfort are absolutely powerless. Yes, they are to look to Christ for all power, but He has given us the church to support one another through all things. None of us is in this alone.

Pastors across America need comfort time. And they need their churches to be proactive in giving it to them. It’s one positive step in ensuring we don’t have more fallen pastors.

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Leaving Our Mark On Eternity

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in encouragement, Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 30-03-2012

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I’ve got a new post up over at Provoketive Magazine entitled, “Leaving Our Mark On Eternity.” It’s about making sure we express our love for people in this life while we still have time.

Here’s an excerpt:

One of the most regrettable things we can do is let time pass without telling someone how we feel. One of the best things we can do is take a pen to paper (not email, not Facebook, but real ink) and write down our feelings for someone. 

Check it out if you get a moment.

What I Don’t Miss About Pastoring: Pastoral Pettiness

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, encouragement, jealousy, pastoral care, pastoring, pettiness, sermons | Posted on 12-02-2011

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I’ve shared three things I really miss about pastoring. That means I can be petty now and share things I don’t miss.

This is Petty.

This is Petty.

Speaking of being petty, I don’t miss pastoral pettiness.

Most church members are oblivious to pastoral pettiness. It’s something pastors only toss around amongst themselves. It’s prideful, disgusting, but we do it anyway. And it can lead to a fall.

Don’t get me wrong, I engaged in plenty of it myself. Lots of it. And I hated it when I did it and others did it. It takes oh so many forms.

One of the biggest forms is the inflation of numbers. When one pastor asks another pastor how many members they have at their church, get ready – because lighting may strike. The conversation goes something like this.

“Brother Bob, how many do you have in worship at Pleasant View?” (every community has a Pleasant View, by the way)

“Well, Brother Tim, we run about 200. How many do you have at Oak Grove?” (every community also has an Oak Grove)

“Well, Brother Bob, we run about 150.”

Yeah. If you heard that conversation, you could guess that Brother Bob was running about 160 and Brother Tim was running about 100.  It’s a good rule of thumb that you can subtract anywhere from 20-40% of whatever number the pastor is pitching you.

I’m not saying the pastor is attempting dishonesty. I believe he wants his church that big. And his church may have run that number last Easter or high attendance Sunday. He may actually look out and see that many people in his church. But his pride (my pride at one time) makes us inflate those numbers.

To be fair, not all pastors do it. But when we do . . . it’s petty.

What I Don't Miss About Pastoring: Pastoral PettinessAnother petty thing we do is fall back on our education as some sort of badge of pride. I was horribly guilty of this. I was so proud of my seminary education.

On the one hand, you should be proud of your education. But it’s not everything. If anything, it should humble you. A lot of pastors use it to end arguments or shut people up. For instance (and this is just and example, not a theological point, so don’t make any comments):

Church member A says, “Bro. Anderson, in your sermon last Sunday, I know you were going on about the Olivet Discourse. I liked what you preached. I’m just curious, though, and I really don’t know, but Jesus said ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.’ But you acted like those things still have yet to happen. I’m not disagreeing, I’m just confused.

Bro. Anderson, “Well, I understand your confusion. Did you listen to the sermon? Go listen again. Jesus was talking about the generation who saw those things.

Church member A, “Well, I got that, but when ‘this generation’ is used elsewhere, he means the generation he’s talking to . . .

Bro. Anderson, “Well, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to or what you’ve been reading, but I have a seminary degree . . .

And so on. Yeah, I’ve done that. Ashamed of it. Because it’s petty.

There’s another level of pettiness that exists. And this one is two-fold. Pastors who start at small churches then get a little bit of the big head around other pastors who still serve at small churches. They act like they’re a “little better” than other pastors because they’ve gone “big time.” Yeah, it happens.

Guess what though? It goes both ways. Those of us who were bi-vocational, working the rural scene got a little angry (dare we say, jealous? heavens no!) about those guys and scorned them behind their backs when we should have been praying for them. Yeah, that happens too. We’re sitting there wondering, “Why didn’t God promote me?” (Maybe it was our attitudes . . .)

I’m trying to say a few of things but I’m not sure it’s coming out too clear. First, pastors are people. We have petty issues, petty jealousy of each other, petty problems, and think petty thoughts. We sin petty sins. And it’s sinful. Ridiculous. We ought to be above it, but sometimes, we’re just not.

This is really Petty.

This is really Petty.

Secondly, we’re weak. Just like the rest of the world. And without guarding ourselves and coming together as men of God, we’re liable to fall.

Thirdly, there aren’t many people pastors can confide in. We can’t talk to church members because they don’t understand. We usually don’t talk to counselors. We find it hard sometimes to talk to spouses. And as you can tell, we rarely talk to one another.

So usually, the job of pastor is very lonely. Please pray for your pastor. Say something nice to him.

It might make his day, and it might make a difference.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

What I Don’t Miss About Pastoring: Pastoral Pettiness

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, encouragement, jealousy, pastoral care, pastoring, pettiness, sermons | Posted on 12-02-2011

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I’ve shared three things I really miss about pastoring. That means I can be petty now and share things I don’t miss.

Speaking of being petty, I don’t miss pastoral pettiness.

Most church members are oblivious to pastoral pettiness. It’s something pastors only toss around amongst themselves. It’s prideful, disgusting, but we do it anyway. And it can lead to a fall.

Don’t get me wrong, I engaged in plenty of it myself. Lots of it. And I hated it when I did it and others did it. It takes oh so many forms.

One of the biggest forms is the inflation of numbers. When one pastor asks another pastor how many members they have at their church, get ready – because lighting may strike. The conversation goes something like this:

“Brother Bob, how many do you have in worship at Pleasant View?” (every community has a Pleasant View, by the way)

“Well, Brother Tim, we run about 200. How many do you have at Oak Grove?” (every community also has an Oak Grove)

“Well, Brother Bob, we run about 150.”

Yeah. If you heard that conversation, you could guess that Brother Bob was running about 160 and Brother Tim was running about 100.  It’s a good rule of thumb that you can subtract anywhere from 20-40% of whatever number the pastor is pitching you. 

I’m not saying the pastor is attempting dishonesty. I believe he wants his church that big. And his church may have run that number last Easter or high attendance Sunday. He may actually look out and see that many people in his church. But his pride (my pride at one time) makes us inflate those numbers.

To be fair, not all pastors do it. But when we do . . . it’s petty.

Another petty thing we do is fall back on our education as some sort of badge of pride. I was horribly guilty of this. I was so proud of my seminary education.

On the one hand, you should be proud of your education. But it’s not everything. If anything, it should humble you. A lot of pastors use it to end arguments or shut people up. For instance (and this is just and example, not a theological point, so don’t make any comments):

Church member A says, “Bro. Anderson, in your sermon last Sunday, I know you were going on about the Olivet Discourse. I liked what you preached. I’m just curious, though, and I really don’t know, but Jesus said ‘this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.’ But you acted like those things still have yet to happen. I’m not disagreeing, I’m just confused.”

Bro. Anderson, “Well, I understand your confusion. Did you listen to the sermon? Go listen again. Jesus was talking about the generation who saw those things.”

Church member A, “Well, I got that, but when ‘this generation’ is used elsewhere, he means the generation he’s talking to . . .”

Bro. Anderson, “Well, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to or what you’ve been reading, but I have a seminary degree . . .”

And so on. Yeah, I’ve done that. Ashamed of it. Because it’s petty.

There’s another level of pettiness that exists. And this one is two-fold. Pastors who start at small churches then get a little bit of the big head around other pastors who still serve at small churches. They act like they’re a “little better” than other pastors because they’ve gone “big time.” Yeah, it happens.

Guess what though? It goes both ways. Those of us who were bi-vocational, working the rural scene got a little angry (dare we say, jealous? heavens no!) about those guys and scorned them behind their backs when we should have been praying for them. Yeah, that happens too. We’re sitting there wondering, “Why didn’t God promote me?” (Maybe it was our attitudes . . .)

I’m trying to say a few of things but I’m not sure it’s coming out too clear. First, pastors are people. We have petty issues, petty jealousy of each other, petty problems, and think petty thoughts. We sin petty sins. And it’s sinful. Ridiculous. We ought to be above it, but sometimes, we’re just not.

Secondly, we’re weak. Just like the rest of the world. And without guarding ourselves and coming together as men of God, we’re liable to fall.

Thirdly, there aren’t many people pastors can confide in. We can’t talk to church members because they don’t understand. We usually don’t talk to counselors. We find it hard sometimes to talk to spouses. And as you can tell, we rarely talk to one another.

So usually, the job of pastor is very lonely. Please pray for your pastor. Say something nice to him.

It might make his day, and it might make a difference.