Many Christians are having problems with their pastor.
In fact, here are the six most common phrases people use to find this blog … counted down from six to one … along with my thoughts on each phrase:
Number Six: “control freak pastors”
For my money, a control freak is someone who tells others what to do and how to do it.
A control freak pastor tells the janitor, “Here’s how to sweep the stairs.” He tells the women in the kitchen, “Here’s how to organize the refrigerator.” He tells the music director, “Here’s how I want the band to look on stage.”
Since the CFP (control freak pastor) doesn’t trust those around him to do ministry well, he’s constantly telling people, “No, don’t do it that way … do it this (my) way instead.”
While a pastor should set high standards for ministry – after all, we represent God Himself – he needs to recruit gifted leaders, train them, turn them loose, and then take his hands off their ministries.
When people are looking for help with a CFP, I suspect they’re upset because they believe their pastor is interfering with their ministry.
My guess is that a high percentage of pastors are CFPs. Here are two ways to deal with them:
First, ask your pastor, “What does success look like in my ministry?” Ask him to use a single phrase: “There’s no visible dirt on the stairs … you can see and access everything in the refrigerator … band members fill the entire stage.”
Second, ask him, “If I meet your standard of success, will you let me do it my way?”
If the pastor agrees, he only appears to be a CFP. If he doesn’t agree … or agrees and reneges … he may be a CFP … and only you can decide how much you can endure.
Of course, if you’re a control freak … that could very well be the issue!
Number Five: “manipulative pastors”
What’s the difference between manipulation and motivation?
When a pastor is using manipulation, he wants you to do something because it benefits him. When he’s using motivation, it benefits you.
Here’s the difference:
The manipulative pastor says, “I want every family in this church to give $1000 toward retiring our mortgage so I can sleep better at night.”
The motivational pastor says, “I want every family to give as God leads you so we can retire the mortgage and free up funds for ministry to your family and unchurched friends.”
The manipulative pastor will violate you to get what he wants … and you can sense that intuitively.
The motivational pastor will never make you do something you’re uncomfortable doing.
Manipulative pastors are me-centered; motivational pastors are others-centered.
Here’s a simple question to determine whether a pastor is being manipulative or motivational:
“Do you want me to do this for your benefit or for mine?”
A better question might be, “Do you want me to do this for your glory or for God’s?”
My wife and I once attended a church service where a guest speaker was manipulating people to come to the front. I took her by the hand and said, “We’re out of here.” We left and never looked back.
If your pastor must use manipulation to get people to attend, give, or serve, call him on it … and if he doesn’t change, leave and never look back.
Number Four: “pastor severance package”
When a church’s governing leaders are thinking about removing their pastor from office, they usually want to know whether they need to give him a severance package … and if so, how much they should give him.
If the pastor is married and/or has kids, the answer is “Absolutely.” Since pastors don’t pay into unemployment, they’re not eligible for it … and most pastors live paycheck to paycheck.
It all depends upon the church’s finances and the pastor’s tenure.
Some church boards choose to give their pastor as little severance as possible … maybe a month or two … especially if the church doesn’t have much money in reserve.
But a good rule-of-thumb is that a pastor be given one month’s severance for every year he served in a church.
In our day, nearly half the pastors who are forcibly terminated never return to pastoral ministry. They need healing … retraining … and assistance … especially if their wives don’t have a full-time career.
Dismiss a pastor without a severance package, and you may destroy his family … and the faith of his wife and kids … or force him to start a church nearby … in which case your church may become his mission field. Pay him well, and he can afford to move away.
Dismiss a pastor with a token severance package … far less than your church can afford … and you may hurt his family and your own church as well.
Do you want God’s blessing on your church? Then treat the departing pastor with generosity and dignity. A friend who served a church as an interim pastor actually went to the church board and got the previous pastor more severance money than he was originally promised.
And if I was a pastoral candidate following a termination, I would want to know what kind of severance the outgoing pastor received because that would speak volumes about how I’d be treated in a similar situation.
Next time: the three most common phrases people use to find this blog. See you then!
Check out our website at www.restoringkingdombuilders.org You’ll find Jim’s story, recommended resources on conflict, and a forum where you can ask questions about conflict situations in your church.